Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Small Improvements to Light Rail That Could Make a Big Impact

  1. Sequence lights on Howard Street so trains can move between stations without having to stop at red lights. This would significantly cut down on the travel time between Mt. Royal/UB and Camden Yards. The technology is there, it just needs to be implemented in a more sensible way. 
  2. Improve passenger information at each station. This would include updating the maps to reflect the current light rail operation. The maps at most stations outside of downtown are poorly designed and show the light rail configuration when the extensions to Penn Station and BWI first opened in 1997. Way-finding and neighborhood maps showing immediate transit connections and local attractions are a must. Posted schedules should be updated immediately whenever a new version of the timetable is made.
    Newer Light Rail map at downtown stations.
  3. Update signs at all stations. A few years back the downtown stations had new signs that replaced the originals from 1992. In addition the stations feature a system diagram, as well as a "At This Stop" sign that highlights a nearby feature. As of now these have not been expanded to the remaining stations on the light rail. FYI This new design can also be seen at the Halethorpe MARC station. 
  4. New neighborhood directional signs. We have all seen the blue and yellow "Light Rail" signs with an arrow pointing in a vague direction to where a light rail station is located. These should be redesigned to include the name of the nearest station and the distance to it. (e.g. Woodberry, 3 Blocks). More are needed especially around walk-up neighborhood stations. A good example is at the Mt. Washington station. There is a walkway underneath I-83 on the side near the Whole Foods, but you would never know because there is not a sign there. If a sign were added, and the walkway better lit, it would add much more accessibility to the retail surrounding the station.
  5. Woodberry Station with unmarked entrance at right.
  6. Improve waiting passenger comfort by adding more benches. There has actually been some improvement with this, but many stations only have benches on one platform, not both. There are some stations that it is impossible to do this, like Baltimore Street and Centre Street because of the narrowness of the platform, but maybe here MTA could add simple canopies that do not interfere with traffic to at least protect people from the rain. 


  1. The light rail was poorly conceived. To be of any use it should have been placed on or near major roads. For example in the Cockeysville, Hunt Valley area, the rail should have gone up Beaver Dam road and looped down York Road. Without track expansion, it has become just another failed Baltimore transit project.

  2. The central part of the light rail would have worked a lot better had it not been built on the cheap. There are a lot of aspects that were not fully thought out. The Hunt Valley extension is a great example, the link to Penn Station is another. Why they never figured a better way to connect there is beyond me. Not having a station near Ruxton was a poor choice.

  3. A major problem with this system is the whining neighborhood activist NIMBY's and the environmental nuts. This is a city and not some lush suburban/rural paradise. The trains should go where people want to ride them an not around supposed obstacles.

  4. Baltimore once had a great light rail system which we called streetcars. The only problem was that they ran down the middle of the street and every time one of them stopped all traffic behind it had to stop. If they would have just considered moving the tracks to the curbs I'm sure fewer people would have wanted to get rid of them. They were quiet, comfortable, fast and made almost no pollution. The light rail system in Denver travels through the downtown area quickly and with little interference to automobile traffic by traveling and stopping on the far right side of the streets in designated and separate lanes.

  5. Agree 100% on the signals- what other train stops for traffic??!!!! This might even be feasible- seems like something the city could take on. For the rest, good luck getting MTA to move on improving local transit.

  6. I believe that security and feeling safe to ride would be the most important improvement

  7. "I believe that security and feeling safe to ride would be the most important improvement"
    You are either an idiot or someone who never rides the Light Rail. I take it all the time, day and night, and never feel unsafe on it.

  8. These are very reasonable ideas, especially the neighborhood wayfinding signs. I hope you're passing them along to the MTA, even if they have a history of not listening and acting on user comments. Maybe someday, someone will.