Base paths to Camden Yards are relined ORIOLES '94

April 01, 1994|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

Like a manager reshuffling his lineup, Orioles fans may want to adjust their travel strategy this season.

Rest assured, Camden Yards hasn't changed locations. It remains one of the most accessible major-league sites in the nation, served by the Central Light Rail Line, Metro, local and express buses and Maryland Rail Commuter trains.

But the nearby Baltimore Convention Center expansion and some changes in the transit schedules could affect thousands of fans. Even pedestrians will be affected, with some sidewalks closed this season.

"There's the possibility of a little more congestion around the ballpark," said David W. Chapin, a state transportation official who coordinates traffic planning for the Maryland Stadium Authority. "Every year, there's been a little fine-tuning."

Those who drive to games will find some new obstacles on the east side of Camden Yards around the convention center. Sharp Street from Pratt to Conway streets is closed, as is Camden Street from Sharp to Howard streets.

Other lane closures are possible, and the expansion project has eliminated a 300-space parking lot at Sharp and Camden streets.

Pedestrians can no longer use the east side of Howard Street from Pratt to Conway streets, on Sharp Street from Pratt to Conway, or on Camden Street from Sharp to Howard streets, and some other sidewalks have been narrowed.

The Mass Transit Administration will no longer offer the MARC baseball train on the Penn North line, which brought fans from as far away as Havre de Grace.

Instead, those fans can take the new MTA No. 420 Bus, the express service from Union and Franklin streets in Havre de Grace. The bus also makes stops on Route 40 at Market Street in Aberdeen, Stepney Road in Stepney, Belcamp Road in Belcamp, Paul Martin Drive in Edgewood, Joppa Farm Road in Joppatowne, and the MARC station in Edgewood.

James Buckley, the MTA's deputy administrator, said most of the cutbacks were necessary because of poor ridership. With the money saved, the agency has expanded bus service and lowered some fares.

"We're adjusting to the ridership pattern that was initially unknown when the ballpark opened two years ago," Buckley said.

The most popular mode of transportation last season was light rail, which averaged 4,453 passengers per game, followed by charter bus, 1,464; express bus, 692; MARC, 672; and Metro, 518. Light rail gained popularity last season and charter bus ridership remained about the same, but the other forms of transit lost passengers.

At the public's request, the MTA will for the first time offer a one-way ticket on express buses. That means riders can take the bus to a game and not be penalized for riding home with friends or family.

Also new is an express service from the park-and-ride lot at Geipe Road and U.S. 40 West.

The MTA has reduced fares on express buses that are close to the ballpark -- Memorial Stadium, Essex and Southwest. They will cost $3 round-trip, compared with the $5 and $6 charged on other buses.

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