The Central Light Rail Line, now three years old, took a large step toward maturity last week with the start of construction on three key additions. The system is now within reach of its true potential as a major transit facility for the metropolitan area.
In two years it will be possible to ride the light rail to work in Hunt Valley, catch an Amtrak train at Penn Station or reach Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the surrounding business parks. The fledgling system is already carrying two-thirds of the passengers projected for 2010. That could be surpassed ten years early.
For the investment of an additional $106 million to the $364.4 million already spent, the light rail system will make a lot more economic sense. Hunt Valley embraces 340 businesses with nearly 30,000 employees. Enough of them work in the city, or the northern part of Anne Arundel County, to make the system a genuinely two-way operation during rush hours. It won't be just a vehicle for bringing suburbanites downtown any longer. Not to mention the hundreds of Orioles fans who may be attracted by the ample parking at Hunt Valley. Similarly, the area around BWI is thick with commercial buildings, with perhaps another 30,000 workers within reach of the spur's two stations.