How to make Light Rail Run BeterMass Transit...


November 14, 1992

How to make Light Rail Run Beter

Mass Transit Administration Police Officer Edgar A. Turner is being light-rail-roaded for doing his job in the matter of the arrest of an elderly couple for non-payment of fares. Guy and Millie Campbell, the couple involved, are also faultless, except, perhaps, for resisting the lawful order of a law enforcement officer.

The guilty parties are the geniuses at MTA who established a station that they called "Lutherville" adjacent to a building marked in large letters: "Timonium Mall."

The Campbells are old enough to know and remember that "Lutherville" on the Northern Central Railway,home of the Central Light Rail Line, is at Seminary Avenue, not Ridgely Road.

No wonder the confusion over what station had a non-functioning ticket machine. Officer Turner and the Campbells should both receive an apology and compensation, taken from the salaries of the MTA managers involved.

Related also to the placement and/or lack of stations between Falls Road and Ridgely Road, an announcement was made by light rail operators of a cut in service from 15 minutes headway to 30 minutes between trains on Sundays beginning Nov. 15.

This is a step in the wrong direction. This will make light rail service inconvenient for a large number of people who are affluent, and they will return to driving their private automobiles. I'm sure that MTA officials will cite ridership as the reason, but . . . MTA officialdom is at fault for the lack of ridership. They have a stretch of line 3 miles long, devoid of stations, between Falls Road and Ridgely Road. You can't ride the trains if you can't board the trains!

This omission is dictated by politics rather than good transit planning and policy. MTA is waiting for the "improvement" association of Ruxton-Riderwood-Lutherville to beg it to build stations,while the heads of those organizations have their own anti-light rail, anti-Schaefer administration agendas. Most of the individual citizens of those areas that I've talked to want stations in their neighborhoods.

The scheduling until this time has not been too intelligent as it is. The system should start up at 5:30 a.m. and close at midnight,with possibly a single all-night "owl car" that would end for all time the complaints about stadium patrons stranded downtown.

The MTA scheduling is dictated by a Conrail freight train on the line. From 1828 to 1971 the Pennsylvania Railroad and its predecessors managed to operate mixed freight and passenger service over this line,and in those days the freight service was much denser and heavier.

MTA has an expensive block signal system in place on this line that should keep the freight train and the light rail cars from bumping into each other.

The same schedule should be in effect seven days a week. The 11 a.m. start-up on Sundays is certainly no use to me to attend 7:30 a.m. mass at the Basilica of the Assumption.

And I'm not alone. There are many heavily attended downtown church services prior to 11:30,which is about as early as one can arrive downtown via light rail on Sunday.

And what about people taking in a show, sporting event (there is the Baltimore Arena as well as Oriole Park at Camden Yards), or having a late dinner at Harborplace? How do they get home after 7 p.m.?

The frequent arrival of light rail every 15 minutes gives patrons a feeling of-well being in a city haunted by the specter of crime. Station vandalism and its costs will increase with less frequent passage of trains. . .

Martin K. Van Horn


Losing the War on Drugs

Is it any wonder we are losing the war against drugs? I have just experienced how much more accessible drugs are than the help needed to combat them.

A close friend of mine recently returned home after a week on continuous crack-cocaine abuse. He received his drugs very easily at an apartment complex in Essex.

Once he called me and asked for help, I rushed him to Francis Scott Key Medical Center because I was told it had the best drug rehabilitation and detoxification program.

Perhaps it does, but no one is available to help on the weekends. (Franklin Square Hospital was also called. A recorded message said they'd get back on Monday.)

Monday morning came and the hospital was called. My friend was informed that the detox program is not for those who are addicted to cocaine. He was told he would have to abuse a variety of drugs to be eligible for the program.

I know for a fact that if I had not been with my friend, watching him and comforting him all weekend long, he would have found the means and money to get more crack-cocaine.

How are we ever going to balance the weapons of this war? Why is it easier to get high than to get help?

Joyce Matson


The Episcopal Church and Same-Sex Unions

Your Oct. 30 article relating to a same-sex celebration performed for two lesbians in an Episcopal church in Baltimore City was as scary as any Halloween prank.

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