No. 210 bus riders protest proposed cut in service CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Crownsville * Millersville

December 11, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

The No. 210 is just a bus, but to Ellen McGee-Keller, and othe riders protesting the MTA's suggestion to cut service from Anne Arundel to Baltimore, it represents a smart choice. They don't want to lose it.

The MTA has proposed cutting four trips from the morning run from Annapolis to Baltimore, and two from the return trip.

The changes are part of MTA plans to eliminate seven bus lines and change or reduce service on 31 others beginning Jan. 31, said MTA acting communications director Ruth Silverstone.

Ms. McGee-Keller, who takes the bus from Earleigh Heights to Baltimore, said she can drive to work faster than she can take a bus.

"But then I have depreciation on the car, higher insurance because I'll be driving longer distances, the cost of gas, $9 a day for parking and the environmental impact of another car on the road," she said.

Ms. McGee-Keller, a member of the executive board of the Greater Severna Park Council, is one of dozens of county residents protesting the proposed No. 210 cuts. The Greater Severna Park Council, an umbrella organization of civic groups, voted Tuesday to send a protest letter to the MTA and county elected officials.

"We're outraged," Ms. McGee-Keller said. "We don't understand how it is that the state, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, came up with the idea of pushing public transportation and yet the MTA doesn't seem flexible in making it accessible to most people."

MTA officials say the cuts are necessary to erase $4 million to $5 million in red ink so that the agency can generate at least half of its costs from fares, as required by law.

Ms. Silverstone said MTA only recovers 19 percent of what it spends to run the No. 210, which has averaged 369 riders daily this year.

"We looked at all lines recovering 30 percent or less and proposed those lines to be ones that would be cut or eliminated for lack of ridership," she said.

But at a recent MTA hearing, No. 210 riders protested that the decline was caused in part by previous cuts.

Two, daytime No. 210 buses were cut several years ago. And cutting the 7 p.m. bus in the last year removed a back-up for people working late, Ms. McGee-Keller said.

Written public comments will be received through 4:30 p.m. today, Ms. Silverstone said.

Ms. McGee-Keller said professional people in the county have few options if they want to take public transportation to work. The No. 210 takes 35 minutes for the trip from Earleigh Heights to Baltimore. A second available bus, the No. 14, is a feeder bus that goes only to the Patapsco Station on the light rail line.

Twice in one week, she missed the No. 210 going home and had to take the No. 14. The trip took an hour and 50 minutes, she said.

Four buses now leave Baltimore between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. When the 5:30 p.m. bus is cut, riders will have to leave work before 5 p.m .to make the 5:15 bus. For many people, that isn't feasible, Ms. McGee-Keller said.

"Professional people don't work until 5, they work beyond that," she said. "Everyone praises taking public transportation, but they are certainly making it hard to use."

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