Bus riders will have a tougher time getting around the city while paying more under a plan announced by the Mass Transit Administration yesterday.
The plan eliminates or reduces nearly a third of the bus routes and increases fares by 8 percent, from $1.25 to $1.35, for buses, subway and light rail. The MARC commuter rail fare will increase by 9 percent. Fare changes take effect March 10.
The route changes, which will take effect Feb. 11 will mean longer waits for buses and longer rides for some passengers. Some of the MTA's 355,000 daily riders will have to transfer between buses more often.
"Some of our customers are going to lose their service, but in most instances there will be alternative services," said MTA spokesman Anthony Brown.
For example, the No. 130 line between Randallstown and Towson will be discontinued, but some riders who live near Liberty Road will be able to take a bus downtown and transfer to a bus for Towson.
In all, 12 of the 66 bus lines in the metropolitan area will be discontinued or shortened. Eight others will be rerouted or will make fewer stops.
The changes signal the end of the current five-zone system, which charges passengers a fee in addition to the basic $1.25 fare each time they enter a different zone. Under the new plan, someone riding from Towson to Baltimore will pay the same as someone going a few blocks.
Critics say the new system is unfair to city riders, who make up 90 percent of the ridership, because those riders are less likely than suburban riders to travel long distances.
Sixth District City Councilman Melvin L. Stukes wants the MTA to devise another plan that would treat the urban and suburban riders equally.
"The Mass Transit Administration has devised a proposal for fare changes and route changes that will have serious financial impact on transit riders who live, pay taxes and vote in the city of Baltimore," he said.
Mr. Stukes, who met with MTA officials yesterday, tried unsuccessfully to get the changes delayed. He said after the meeting that a protest by city riders is planned for Jan 15.
MTA Administrator John A. Agro Jr. said that the MTA needs to raise more money from fares to meet a state requirement that 50 percent of operating expenses be collected from riders.
Mr. Agro said the fare increase, the first since 1993, must be
shouldered by riders who stay within the city because there are too few riders who travel longer distances.
He said the elimination of the zone system will make it easier to ride the bus system.
Among other changes is a new $3 day pass that will allow unlimited, all-day travel. Monthly tickets, which had ranged from $42 to $75.50, will be $54, and weekly tickets will increase to $14 from $11.
The MTA also plans to give MARC weekly and monthly pass holders free access to the bus, light rail and Metro systems. Previously, pass holders had to pay additional charges to switch. In addition, senior citizens will get a 50 percent discount from the regular MARC monthly pass prices.
This is the list of transit service adjustments that are scheduled to go into effect Feb. 11.
No. 5 line -- runs between Mondawmin Metro station and Cedonia: Service will be rerouted via Whitelock Street.
No. 7 line -- runs between Mondawmin Metro station and Canton: Late weeknight and Saturday night runs between Canton and Pikesville will be lengthened from 50 to 65 minutes.
No. 9 line -- runs between Hunt Valley and York Road and Northern Parkway: Evening runs will be lengthened from 15 to 30 minutes.
No. 11 line -- runs between Towson and Riverview via downtown Baltimore: The portion of the route serving Osler Drive, between Rodgers Forge and the Towson courthouse, will be discontinued.
Nos. 12 and 17 lines -- No. 12 runs between the North Linthicum light rail stop and Parkway Center in Anne Arundel County, and No. 17 runs between the Patapsco light rail stop and the Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie light rail stop: Both lines will be combined into the new No. 17 line that will serve portions of both routes. Lake Shore and Green Haven service on No. 17 line will be discontinued. Weekday and Saturday service along Hammonds Ferry Road and Saturday service southeast of the airport will be discontinued.
No. 14 line -- runs between the Patapsco light rail stop in Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County and on Sundays runs between State Center in downtown Baltimore and Annapolis: Selected trips will be rerouted to serve Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and riders who would be displaced by the discontinuance of the No. 17 line between Marley Station and Mountain roads. Peak period service between Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie light rail stop and Annapolis will be every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes.
No. 18 line -- runs between Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie light rail stop and Old Mill: This line will be discontinued and the portion between Hospital Drive and the Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie light rail stop will be served by the No. 14 line.