Anne Arundel's Baltimore orientation yields to Washington bent, data show

February 04, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

The number of Washington, D.C., residents commuting to Anne Arundel County to work has increased more than sevenfold in the past decade. Over the same decade, the number of county residents working in Washington jumped by one-third, while the number heading for Baltimore increased only marginally.

And some suggest that all those people saying Anne Arundel is more attuned to Washington than it is to Baltimore may be on to something.

"We have shifted from a Baltimore orientation to a Washington orientation," agreed county statistician Alexander D. Speer. "It's been building up, but it probably happened in the mid '80s."

Mr. Speer surmised that National Security Agency employees, only 25 percent of whom live in Anne Arundel County, may not have been included in the earlier census counts, though a Census Bureau official could not confirm that. About 48,000 employees work at the NSA site near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, he said.

The data includes people who drive to work, as well as those who use the MARC train stations at BWI Airport and in Odenton.

The number of Washington-area residents working in the county jumped from 8,905 in 1980 to 59,820 in 1990. During the same time, 95,519 new jobs have been created here over the past decade.

In 1990, 48,209 commuters traveled to the Washington area, a 39 percent jump over the 34,714 heading south in 1980. That same year, 42,510 county residents went to work in the Baltimore area, compared to 43,001 in 1990.

"We've been much more allied with the Washington economy, which has been a much more vigorously growing area than the Baltimore area," Mr. Speer said.

For the census, the Washington area includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, Prince William and Stafford counties in Virginia; Frederick, Calvert, Charles, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland; and the Northern Virginia communities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

During the same time, more and more people from the Washington area have been driving or riding into Anne Arundel County, where 95,519 new jobs have been created over the past decade. A higher number of commuters both into and out of the county has not lead to an increase in the number of commuters using mass transit.

In 1980, 4,192 commuters from Anne Arundel County used mass transit. A decade later, that number dropped slightly to 4,140.

Those numbers reflect a system-wide, slight decrease in mass transit ridership since 1980, largely because of more people moving farther from cities and densely populated areas of the suburbs in favor of the less populated outskirts.

"We're constantly looking at how commuting patterns are changing so we can see how to best fit our service to their needs," said Kenneth Goon, director of planning for the MTA. "We've recognized for six or seven years now a greater demand on suburban type service, to other suburbs or to D.C."

During that time, the MTA has opened park and ride lots in the county and launched two commuter bus routes from Annapolis to Washington and one from Crofton to Washington. The Annapolis routes have had increased ridership during the past few years, he said.

The decade also saw both vast improvements along Route 50 to Washington and the opening of I-97.

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