Light rail adds 2 stops on Sunday

June 16, 1993|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Staff Writer

An article yesterday about the opening of new light rail stations listed incorrect Sunday hours for light rail. The correct hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Baltimore's light rail system is coming early to Glen Burnie, expanding three miles to its southern terminus this Sunday, three weeks ahead of schedule, state officials announced yesterday.

The addition of two stops, Ferndale and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie, are expected to provide a major boost to the Central Light Rail Line, which has so far attracted about one-quarter of its projected ridership.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The expansion will bring the 13-month-old electric trolley system to 22.5 miles and 24 stations, the "baseline" for light rail in Baltimore, according to the Mass Transit Administration.

Further extensions to Hunt Valley, Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Pennsylvania Station are not expected to be completed until 1996.

John A. Agro Jr., the MTA's administrator, said the early opening demonstrates a new attitude within the state agency. He said it was made possible by "encouraging" contractors to work more efficiently over the last two months.

"I want to establish a culture in the organization of meeting and exceeding schedules we've established," said Mr. Agro, who assumed the MTA's top post in February. "We're a new MTA. We're on time or ahead of schedule."

Muriel G. Carter, president of the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, welcomed the availability of light rail, particularly for Orioles fans. The trip from Glen Burnie to Camden Yards takes about 25 minutes.

"It's quick and there's no hassle and you get right downtown," she said. "I think it's great that it's opening early."

Community leaders noted, though, that a June opening is not all that early. When MTA officials initially talked about the Glen Burnie segment last year, they expected it to open this spring.

MTA officials have long maintained that the southern leg of light rail through Anne Arundel County is likely to be far more popular than the northern leg to Timonium in Baltimore County. More people live near the rail line in northern Anne Arundel and the county has a more blue-collar, transit-dependent population.

Light rail provides an estimated 8,195 passenger trips a day compared with the 33,100 the system is expected to handle by the year 2010. The ridership estimate is the most recent prepared by the MTA, but predates the system's expansion from Patapsco Avenue south to Linthicum in April.

Mr. Agro said state officials will survey ridership in a month or two to gauge the initial success of the Anne Arundel County segment.

One of the features that has slowed light rail's growth has been a lack of parking. With its 780 parking spaces, the Glen Burnie stop should help that.

The Ferndale station is located along Route 648 near the intersection of Ferndale Road. Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie is at 102 Dorsey Road, the intersection of Dorsey with Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard across from the Cromwell Field Shopping Center.

The new stations will open at 7 a.m. Sunday and will close at 11 p.m., the normal Sunday hours for light rail.

The light rail system has so far cost the state $364.4 million to build. When the extensions are added, the total cost is expected to rise $98.1 million to $462.5 million.

The MTA received some good news regarding its three planned extensions to BWI, Penn Station and Hunt Valley. The Federal Transit Administration this week approved making the extensions a "turnkey" development, one of only four projects nationwide given such a designation.

That means that the state can bid the extensions as a single contract rather than as a series of contracts. The federal government hopes to find out whether a single contract system can keep costs down, reduce red tape and speed development.

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