PROPOSALS TO extend metropolitan bus service from Baltimore County into Carroll County have met with frequent local rebuff. Economics, concerns about urban ills coming to Carroll and dubious convenience have been the major stumbling blocks to expanding the state Mass Transit Administration system.
But population growth in Carroll, especially of people who commute eastward for work, may be changing the needs for and perceptions of public bus service. An increasingly congested Route 140, the county's major east-west link with Baltimore, is also forcing a change of heart among weary motorists.
Westminster's mayor, Kenneth Yowan, thinks sufficient demand exists today for MTA bus service between the county seat and the Metro station at Owings Mills.
Lots of Carroll drivers already make that commuter choice, he says, preferring the Metro transit ride into the urban corridor.
But they have to make the tedious drive, during rush hours, from their homes to the Baltimore County station and then park their cars.
Why not an efficient public transit system that could reduce Route 140 traffic jams and Carroll commuter stress?
Indeed, why not? A survey of 13,000 Carroll residents taken two years ago by MTA found little support countywide for bus routes. The sole exception was Westminster, where a sufficient number of commuters endorsed a peak-hours-only service to the Owings Mills Metro.
Since then, the congestion on Route 140 has only gotten worse, despite recent projects to widen certain stretches outside Westminster. It was in a discussion of growth and congestion along that highway last week, and the continuing delay in building a bypass, that Mr. Yowan made his pitch. "It seems ludicrous that we get thousands of cars going back and forth to the Metro station every day, and there's no bus service from here to there," he told the planning commissions of the county and city.
This limited mass transit service could work, with the support of county government to get it rolling. A few buses in a trial period could prove its economic viability and appeal. The mayor's idea deserves prompt consideration, because building a Route 140 bypass is many years and millions of dollars in the distance.
Pub Date: 5/06/97