Travelers aren't out of the drifts yet Authorities warn of widespread bus, air and rail delays

Blizzard Of 1996

January 09, 1996|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Mary Maushard, Jacques Kelly and Mark Hyman contributed to this article.

Planes, trains and buses will be operating today in Baltimore. But expect fewer of them.

And, travelers, prepare for delays.

Baltimore-Washington International Airport is scheduled to have one of four runways cleared of snow and open. But passengers -- including the 50 or so stranded there -- should check with their airlines to determine the times for arrivals and departures.

Airline passengers should expect some flights to be canceled; the airport usually handles 600 to 650 flights a day when all four runways are open, officials said.

Amtrak travelers heading to New York and Washington can hop a train at Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station -- provided they understand that trains will be running on a shorter Saturday schedule. Better yet, call 1-800-USA-RAIL to check on the frequency of trains.

Bus service in the Baltimore metropolitan area will resume today on a limited basis. The Mass Transit Administration kept its buses off the snow-clogged roads yesterday.

"As people begin to recover, it's important that the MTA be there with reliable and, most importantly, safe transportation for citizens," said a spokesman, Anthony Brown. "That's what we plan to do."

The Baltimore Metro will run only from the Mondawmin and Johns Hopkins Hospital stations between 5 a.m. and midnight. Buses will take Metro passengers from Mondawmin to the Owings Mills and Reisterstown Plaza stations.

The light rail opens for business at 6 a.m., running its regular route between Timonium and Glen Burnie, as it did yesterday. And MARC trains will be operating on a holiday schedule on the Penn Station and Brunswick lines only. The Camden line won't be open to riders.

Mr. Brown, the MTA spokesman, encouraged passengers to call the MTA's customer service center for updated information, (410) 539-5000.

Travelers today might learn a few things from the dozens trying ** to get places yesterday:

Patience. Patience. Patience.

That virtue was most clearly evident at BWI yesterday. Most of the 50 people stranded there calmly accepted their fate.

About 2 p.m., Kay Peterson of St. Paul, Minn., was strolling the terminal corridors, pushing a cart loaded with blue suitcases. She had arrived at the airport yesterday morning hoping for a miracle -- that her flight home would take off on schedule.

By midafternoon, it was painfully clear she wouldn't be leaving.

"I'll probably sleep on the floor," said Ms. Peterson, a part-time nurse. "I'm cruising the terminal now to see what's available."

Mike Wells already had experienced the thrill of bedding down at BWI. An engineer from El Paso, Ill., Mr. Wells spent Sunday night sprawled out on two vinyl chairs in the observation gallery.

"I was up and down a few times," said Mr. Wells, 29. He added cheerfully, "The runway lights are really nice."

Mr. Wells was hoping his airport ordeal will end this afternoon. That's when his Southwest flight for Chicago is scheduled to takeoff.

At Baltimore's Penn Station, Elizabeth Bernhardt and Paolo Martino were headed for Bologna, Italy.

Via New York, of course.

The couple were waiting for an Amtrak train north. They were on the second leg of a round-about return to Italy. They arrived in Baltimore at 9 p.m. Sunday, after driving two days from St. Louis, where the pair had been visiting Ms. Bernhardt's family.

"It was a horrible trip," said Ms. Bernhardt, who teaches English in a private school in Bologna.

Their flight for Bologna is supposed to leave this afternoon from Kennedy International Airport in New York. Despite the anguishing interstate drive and delayed train, the couple were still on schedule yesterday -- not something most other travelers could say.

Burke and Debbie Sutor of Westminster rode the light rail trains yesterday for the fun of it. Stranded in Baltimore, "it was all we could find to do," Mr. Sutor said.

The couple had been on Cape Cod for a Saturday wedding only to discover their flight back to BWI had been canceled. So they boarded an Amtrak train in Boston and arrived at Baltimore's Penn Station at 9:30 Sunday night.

The Sutors paid a gypsy four-wheel-drive owner $20 to take them and their luggage to the Downtown Marriott Hotel, where they planned to stay until their cars can be dug out from the long-term parking lot at BWI.

"It's frustrating. The light rail takes us so near the lot. We're within striking distance, but we can't get there from here," said Mr. Sutor.

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