Towson considered for shuttles

Area to be added if funds become available to MTA

October 25, 2002|By Jennifer M. Sims | Jennifer M. Sims,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Transit Administration is considering Towson as an addition to its growing community shuttle program.

A draft plan for the Towson area was devised after community meetings last fall that attracted residents and members of the business community.

Despite the community interest, the project is on hold because the MTA does not have funds committed to the project, said Suzanne Bond, an administration spokeswoman.

"The planning was started with the understanding that there was no funding earmarked for the project," said Bond. "The goal was to be ready with a plan when funding became available." Bond wasn't sure when that might be.

If money does become available, Towson is first in line for a community route. Towson residents would get to review the preliminary plan, but typically the community shuttles operate on circular routes that connect local areas of interest, such as Towson Town Center, surrounding neighborhoods, and the bus and light rail systems.

MTA estimates that operating costs for a Towson-area shuttle would be from $250,000 to $750,000 annually, depending on the length of the route and the number of shuttles. That figure does not include the cost of the vehicles.

Corrine Becker, who lives on Kenilworth Drive in Towson, attended the meetings last year after complaining to the MTA that the bus that runs through her neighborhood doesn't serve the community's needs.

"It's virtually useless to anyone who lives here because it goes down to the city," Becker, president of the Riderwood Hills Community Association, said she repeatedly told MTA officials, adding that a more community-centered route would likely increase ridership.

Hampden and Mondawmin participate in the 2-year-old program - termed the Shuttle Bug; a new route in South Baltimore is scheduled to be running by December.

A Towson shuttle system was operated in the '80s by a nonprofit group, but was stopped because of lack of money.

Eight MTA bus routes run through Towson in a crisscross mesh. The closest light rail stops are the Lutherville station near Timonium Mall and the Falls Road station near Robert E. Lee Park and the city line.

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