Maryland is moving strongly to improve area's public...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 13, 2000

Maryland is moving strongly to improve area's public transit

I was pleased to see The Sun focus its recent editorial series on transit in the Baltimore region (Dec. 12-14). While I applaud The Sun's efforts and could not agree more with the premise that transit is an important part of the regions future success, in some instances I feel the series failed to fairly characterize the region's transportation planning efforts.

The region does have an aggressive vision for transit. In fact, during the administration of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, transit in Maryland has thrived.

The governor has set a goal of doubling transit ridership by 2020 and we are moving to complete the studies and identify the funding needed to achieve that goal.

Our six-year capital program involves nearly $2 billion and includes funds to double track Baltimore's light rail line.

Long-range plans prepared by the state and our local partners for the Baltimore region are in agreement on rail service to White Marsh and Woodlawn and a downtown loop. We agree that significant underground extensions of the Metro Subway are unaffordable.

We are now meeting the challenge of finding light rail routes that serve planned land uses and have acceptable impacts to the communities they traverse.

We also acknowledge the critical role buses will continue to play in providing mass transit. As our system expands, we will continue to monitor and adjust schedules to ensure that bus and rail service operate as an interconnected network.

Any claim that the state has been unsuccessful in competing for federal transit funds is completely unfounded.

The current federal transportation budget authorizes $120 million for the light rail double track project as well as funds to study a new rail corridor in the region. It also funds new buses, MARC improvements and a study to examine transit alternatives along the Pratt Street corridor in downtown Baltimore City.

We are proud of our accomplishments. Is there more work to be done? Of course.

The MTA and the Maryland Department of Transportation are committed to working with citizens, elected officials, local governments and the business community to continue development of a transit network that meets the current and future needs of the Baltimore region.

John D. Porcari

Annapolis

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Owings Mills `Main Street' would hurt Metro's patrons

I was frustrated by The Sun's article regarding Baltimore County's plan to create a town center in Owings Mills, at the cost of parking spaces for subway riders ""Vision of Owings Mills builds on Main Street," Jan. 4).

Did any of the county's planners read The Sun's articles about overcrowded highways and under-used public transportation?

Do they still think it logical to remove fully-utilized parking spaces, needed by the subway's riders to create a shopping mall, bringing in yet more people to an already congested area?

Obviously, no one has learned from the 30-minute searches for a parking space at The Avenue in White Marsh.

The traffic at Painters Mill and Reisterstown roads is hair-raising at best during rush hour, and a shopping area would only worsen the matter.

The county could instead increase public transportation ridership by using some of the state's projected contribution to the Owings Mills project to clean and repair the Metro stations and the subway's frequently filthy cars and update the bus system.

Instead, we will now face another overpriced shopping strip which will be mostly vacant within five years.

Anne M. Van de Castle

Owings Mills

The Sun's recent series on the need for better transportation planning, including finding ways to increase the use of Metro and light rail lines, was on the mark.

I therefore read with some misgivings the article on the new "Main Street" planned for the space currently occupied by the Owings Mills Metro parking lot.

Apparently a 2,000-car parking garage is planned to serve Metro patrons. But parking garages don't come free.

If the Washington Metro is any guide, it will cost around $4 per day to park in what has until now been a free lot. If so, the cost of my daily commute would rise 60 percent.

That's not exactly an incentive to use the Metro.

David Porter

Glyndon

Will new "Main Streets' become outdated, too?

I read with some bemusement the plans for a "Main Street" in Owings Mills ("Vision of Owings Mills builds on Main Street," Jan 4).

I can't help but wonder, though, how long it will be before such manufactured Main Streets become what their original counterparts are today.

How sad that we abandon the streets and neighborhoods we came from, only to build more glamorous images of what we imagine these places should be.

Richard B. Crystal

Baltimore

Transit `losses': investment in mobility, competitiveness

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