Fare boost to buy less MTA service

January 14, 1993|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Staff Writer

An article yesterday on Mass Transit Administration cutbacks gave an incorrect closing time for three subway stations. The Old Court, Reisterstown Plaza and State Center stations will close at 8 p.m. beginning Jan. 31.

The Evening Sun regrets the error.

It's official: Baltimore's mass transit systems will soon cost more to ride, but will serve fewer places less often.

The base fare on buses, Metro, and light rail will be raised by 15 cents to $1.25 from $1.10 beginning Sunday. Two weeks later, on Jan. 31, the state Mass Transit Administration will put into effect the deepest service cutback in its history, agency representatives announced yesterday.

Reduced ridership, rising costs, and a state law that requires mass transit systems to recover half their expenses from fares forced the changes, officials said.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"If our revenues turn around, we might be able to restore some of the routes," said Ronald J. Hartman, MTA administrator. "We tried to listen in the public hearings and put back the most objectionable changes by finding other savings in the organization."

Some of the cutbacks have been softened from their original proposals after hundreds of riders petitioned, wrote letters or attended a series of public hearings.

The most dramatic reductions are in the MTA bus system, where 36 of 62 lines will be affected.

L Some routes will be eliminated while others will be altered.

Some buses will run less often and service during off-peak or late-night hours will be reduced.

Officials estimated that the reductions will amount to a 5 percent drop in daily mileage for the MTA buses and will save the state an estimated $4 million annually in salaries and operating costs.

The fare increase is expected to raise about $4.5 million in revenue.

Metro, which was slated to close two hours early on weekdays, will instead stay open until midnight.

Three stations that tend not to be used at night -- State Center, Reisterstown Plaza and Old Court -- will be closed at 10 p.m. Trains will run every 30 minutes after 8 p.m., instead of every 20 minutes.

Proposed cutbacks have been tempered for the following bus routes:

* No. 86. The line between Goucher Boulevard and the Social Security Administration will stay in service.

* No. 26. The Providence Road Park and Ride bus will continue running, but instead of going downtown, riders will be given a lift to the light rail station in Lutherville.

* No. 130. The premium service between Randallstown and Towson will not be eliminated as planned.

* No. 210. The frequency of service between Annapolis and Baltimore will still be reduced as expected, but the route through downtown Baltimore will not be changed.

* No. M12. Only midday service between the Milford Mill Metro stop and Villa Julie College will be cut.

The MTA has decided to stick to its plan to get rid of weekend service on the No. 35 bus route between Johns Hopkins Hospital and Franklin Square Hospital, and the No. 61 from downtown to the intersection of Lake and Roland avenues.

Officials also stand behind their decision to reduce service to once every 70 minutes between Eastpoint and Dundalk on the No. 4 and stop service from Dundalk to the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Fort Howard.

However, Mr. Hartman said the MTA is negotiating with private companies to create subsidized bus or van service on those three routes before the cutbacks take effect.

State law requires that income from fares cover half the operating expenses for the bus and subway systems.

Even with the cutbacks, the systems' costs are expected to amount to $140 million this year, of which $70 million will be paid for by federal funds and state tax revenues.

FOR MORE DETAILS

The affected bus routes include Nos. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30, 35, 36, 51, 61, 63, 66, 86, 91, 130, 210, 220, 230, M9 and M12. For more information, call 539-5000.

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