In another attempt to ease rush-hour congestion and parking woes, a new shuttle service will take downtown workers to their jobs from Camden Yards parking lots starting in the spring, Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced yesterday.
The state is giving the Downtown Partnership, a business group, $5.9 million to set up the program. The assumption is that commuters will trade the convenience of driving almost to their office door in return for less hassle and significant savings.
The public also will be able to ride the buses for a fare that is expected to be $1.
"This new service will help keep cars off crowded city streets by giving commuters, shoppers and visitors to the city a convenient and viable transit option," Glendening said.
The eight buses will have 26 seats and resemble airport shuttles. During rush hour, buses will leave every five minutes and follow a loop: east on Pratt Street, north on Charles Street, west on Fayette Street and south on Greene Street back to Camden Yards.
At off-peak times, buses will stop in Little Italy and Mount Vernon. The shuttle will run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Organizers hope to attract 600 riders a day initially and 1,300 by the end of the first year. It will cost $50 a month for a regular commuter; by contrast, a space in a downtown garage can cost between $100 and $200 a month.
The head of a statewide group that focuses on environmental issues praised the program's creation. "Anything that can help people get around the city more efficiently is just going to be a huge boon to the individuals as well as the businesses in the area," said Dru Schmidt Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Maryland.