No. 17 bus passengers fear loss of line Lack of riders leads transit administration to end service to light rail

February 02, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Shirley Leisher moved from Baltimore to Green Haven a year ago to be closer to her daughter, figuring she could get to work on the No. 17 bus, which carried her to Cromwell Station and the light rail line.

But the Mass Transit Administration announced recently it was eliminating service to Green Haven, and Ms. Leisher, who doesn't have a car, is wondering if she was too hasty about moving.

"I moved here from the city because I thought it was a nice area with good public transportation," said Ms. Leisher, 60, who works at a bank in downtown Baltimore. "Now, I'm going to have to move back because that's where the cabs are."

Anthony Brown, an MTA spokesman, said the line is being dropped because its small ridership does not generate enough money at the fare box. The state requires the MTA to earn 50 percent of its costs in fares, but the No. 17 makes only 11 percent, he said.

The bus runs Monday through Saturday between Cromwell Station and Lake Shore. On Feb. 12, it will be combined with the No. 12, which runs between the Patapsco light rail stop and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Mr. Brown said.

But the route will not include the portion of the No. 17 route along Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, Mountain Road and Catherine Avenue, and that's the most important part, Ms. Leisher said.

Many riders from the Pasadena area depend on the bus to the light rail station to get to work.

"I depend on the bus for my job," Ms. Leisher said. "I'm going to lose my job if I can't make it to work."

And she is not alone.

Robert Colletti, 51, needs the bus to get to the light rail so that he can go to work at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"I've been riding that bus for 30-some years," said the Lake Shore resident. "I can't believe they're going leave people stranded. Nobody can get to work."

When the line is eliminated, the closest bus stop to Mr. Colletti is on Old Annapolis Road.

"That's about eight to 10 miles away," he said. "I'd probably have to walk up there."

Sue Kowarski, 64, who works as a cashier at an electronics store in Washington, has a car, but said she dreads driving at night or when the weather is bad.

"I'm not a young person anymore," said the Pasadena resident, who rides the bus from her home on Bayside Drive to BWI, where she catches a shuttle to transfer to a Maryland Rail Commuter service train. "It's terrible for me."

Ezekiel Walker of Sun Valley said he relies on the bus not only for transportation to his job at the Holiday Inn at the airport on the weekdays, but also for errands and church on the weekends.

"It's very important because without the bus, I can't live my life," said Mr. Walker, 53. "I love my job. But without my job, I can't survive."

Mr. Walker said he has considered paying someone to pick him up, but is wary of the cost.

"That's very expensive to me," he said. "I can't afford it. I'm just a poor, plain fellow."

Beth Coogan, one of Mr. Walker's supervisors, said he is a valuable employee "who shows up on the questionnaires our customers fill out, about what a good employee he is." But she said the motel may not be able to retain him if he can't get to work consistently.

"We want to keep him," she said. "But honestly, I don't know."

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