Officials hope mass-transit system isn't just one-year wonder Fans urged to keep car use to minimum

April 02, 1993|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Staff Writer

You've spent weeks planning which Orioles games to attend, plotted the best available seats, scouted out the stadium concessions, maybe even taken note of your pre- and post-game entertainment options.

What's missing from this picture?

You probably ought to be thinking about the best way to get to and from Camden Yards. Your options are not limited to the automobile.

Last year, about a half-million people took some form of mass transit to the ballpark. The most popular form of public transit was the Central Light Rail Line, the year-old electric trolley system.

But mass transit use dipped toward the end of last season, and more fans began driving to the ballpark at peak times -- between 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. for evening games. If that trend continues, getting to and from Orioles games could become significantly more difficult.

"Our concern this year is that the expectation will be that everything was fine last year, so they won't worry about it," said David W. Chapin, a state transportation official who coordinates traffic planning for the Maryland Stadium Authority. "The result could be more congestion, and some people will not like it."

Some changes have been made to make the ballpark more accessible this year and, in some cases, to cut costs. Gone are the mostly empty Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) trains from Brunswick and the equally empty 50-cent shuttle buses downtown.

Fans will discover the biggest improvement is the expansion of the light-rail line. Beginning with today's exhibition game, light-rail trains will run south from Patapsco Avenue to four new stations: Baltimore Highlands in Baltimore County and Nursery Road, North Linthicum and Linthicum, all in Anne Arundel County.

The light-rail extension will be open only for baseball service until mid-April. Light rail is scheduled to extend three miles farther south to Ferndale and Cromwell Station in Glen Burnie in July.

There are no more express buses from the Providence Road Park-and-Ride lot, nor will Metro run on Sundays. Both services were discontinued as part of the latest round of Mass Transit Administration budget cutbacks earlier this year.

To replace Metro on Sundays, the MTA will operate express buses from the Owings Mills station.

Express buses will also be running for the first time from Havre de Grace, Brunswick and Frederick, the last two replacing the MARC service.

Reservations must be made for the Frederick and Brunswick buses 24 hours in advance. .

Chapin said baseball fans can avoid traffic tie-ups by taking precautions. He recommends, for instance, getting off the Jones Falls Expressway before the last exit in order to avoid Lombard Street, where the city is doing major repairs.

With its 8,000 free parking spaces, Metro is a good option if people are willing to walk from Lexington Market or Charles Center, he said.

People headed to the ballpark on Opening Day -- as well as other day games -- should be especially careful to come early and stay late, particularly if they are driving, and to avoid the busy routes like Interstate 95 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.