Rail station's closing called unlikely

May 27, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

State Sen. Michael J. Wagner told a group of community leaders, residents, merchants, law enforcement officials and politicians last night that the chance of closing the Linthicum light rail station is "minute."

"We know we have problems," said Mr. Wagner, a Ferndale Democrat and longtime supporter of the 27-mile commuter line between Glen Burnie and Timonium. "We need to talk about solutions."

He is organizing a neighborhood group to discuss ways to curb the crime that some say light rail is bringing to northern Anne Arundel County.

The group would include the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association, which supported the walk-up station behind the Royal Farm Store on Camp Meade Road a year ago, and voted May 11 to ask the state Mass Transit Administration to close it.

Frustrated residents who packed the association's May meeting two weeks ago jeered Mr. Wagner.

Last night at Michael's Eighth Avenue, his restaurant in Glen Burnie, he asked residents to drop the "lynch mob" mentality and to return to their communities and tell their neighbors the crime problem was being addressed.

Since beginning a Light Rail Enforcement Initiative three weeks ago, county police have made 76 arrests, mostly for shoplifting in stores in the Cromwell Field Shopping Center in Glen Burnie. Police have recovered $2,596 in property, Captain Gary Barr, commander of the Northern District, said last night.

Police Chief Robert Russell and Bernard Foster, chief of the MTA police, assured residents their concerns are being heeded. Mr. Foster said the MTA is working with Baltimore County and Baltimore City to ease similar concerns in those areas.

"The problem in Anne Arundel County is not unique," he said.

Mr. Foster said the MTA hopes to have a task force of officers ready by mid-June or July work the trains and light rail station platforms during the system's operating hours. After three months, the task force will be evaluated to see how well it is working, he said.

Residents have clamored for conductors on the trains to accept fares -- riders now buy tickets at machines under an honor system, and MTA police officers sometimes ask to see tickets. Mr. Foster said conductors would be unrealistic because conductors and riders cannot go from one car to another.

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