Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Big Improvements to Light Rail that Would Make For a Better System

  1. In the long term planning, the MTA wants to extend the Light Rail (dubbed the Yellow Line) passed BWI all the way to Columbia, connecting the BWI Rail Station and Dorsey MARC station along the way. I honestly do not think extending the route to Columbia is the best choice. Instead how about extending just to Dorsey. The spur from BWI Business District to the international terminal should be abandoned and This ROW used for a people mover that would connect the parking garages, long term parking, and the terminal with the light rail station. 
  2. Adding infill stations along the route the current route would allow for better access to more communities. The station platforms at Texas are already there; a new park-and-ride station can be added here pretty easily. Walk-up stations should be considered at Ruxton along Bellona Avenue and Remington/Hampden at Wyman Park Drive to access neighborhoods that are currently bypassed. This last station could provide better access to Druid Hill Park
  3. Pursue the proposed Yellow Line north through the city. This would be a very expensive project which would be years down the road, especially considering the anemic pace of the Red Line, and its potential delay now with Larry Hogan as the next governor. I explored this option back in 2013, but a separate Yellow Line would be able to provide necessary rapid transit access to Mount Vernon and Penn Station. The short stub track from the current Light Rail to Penn Station could be abandoned, with the Yellow Line serving as a faster and more efficient connection between MARC/Amtrak and downtown. 
  4. Build a new Camden Yards Station because the current station is a joke; it is way too small and the fabric canopy leaks and is useless if it's windy. A proper station shelter is desperately needed at Camden Yards, preferably one designed to fit nicely with the warehouse and the old Camden Station. A bigger waiting room is a must with larger bathrooms. While a staffed ticketing window may not be necessary, more self-serve kiosks are; currently there is only one for MARC and one for Light Rail. A newsstand/snack/coffee shop could be added for the convenience of commuters and for Orioles fans during baseball season. New canopies should be constructed over the MARC platforms with better lighting and benches. Currently there is only one canopy on one platform that is shared with the southbound light rail. If the above plan to extend the Yellow Line through the Inner Harbor and Mount Vernon is pursued, then a new Camden Yards light rail station, separate from the MARC platforms would need to be built.
Sure this is more ambitious than the small improvements list, and this would be many years down the road, but Baltimore needs to get more visionary with its transit planning and get serious about making a more expansive and connected transit system. 

1 comment:

  1. IMHO, Towson holds both the biggest promise and the biggest threat for a liveable Baltimore. By aspiring to be a sort of Bethesda-without-rail-transit, current leaders there are preparing to shoot the entire region in the foot culturally by creating out of whole cloth a luxurious place unconnected to anything. In doing so, they will push Baltimore away from the DC/Boston/Philly model (in which connectivity goes hand-in-hand with status) and toward the Detroit/Toledo/Akron model (in which life sucks because nothing is connected but hey, at least our local suburban apartment tower was once luxurious and is still mildly less crappy than the scaaaary stuff in the city.)

    That is not the path we want to be on as a region. It will put us at a disadvantage in attracting people, and it will put Towson at a disadvantage in attracting students.

    The school must nip that problem in the bud if it wishes to be a high-status destination school. School leaders should start a private fundraising drive to build a dedicated-right-of-way trolley from the school to Hunt Valley. By keeping it privately funded and Baltimore County-based, they could avoid both the usual NIMBYism and the usual cries of public waste that generally accompany such projects.

    This idea is both our best hope for remaining a transit-minded city and our best hope for building any part of the yellow line any time soon. If you know anyone who attends, teaches at or is an alumnus of Towson, please pitch the idea to them.