MTA to launch `first phase' of new bus routes

Agency's new plan omits most controversial cuts

Changes to begin Oct. 23

Restructuring to affect about 105,000 riders a day

July 28, 2005|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

The Ehrlich administration will move forward in October with Baltimore-area bus route changes affecting about 105,000 riders a day, but it has dropped many of the most controversial service cuts in its original restructuring plan, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said last night.

Flanagan said he will announce this morning the new version of the route changes the Maryland Transit Administration will launch, after its original plan ran into heavy opposition during public hearings last month.

That proposal, announced in May, would have affected virtually all of the MTA's 230,000 daily riders in a program that would have been implemented all at once. But Flanagan said yesterday that what he's now calling "Phase 1" would affect about 40 percent of riders - few of them adversely.

"We have listened to the concerns and comments of the public. The routes we are changing are going to be changing in different ways," he said. The restructuring, called the Greater Baltimore Bus Initiative, has been billed as the most comprehensive overhaul of the system's route structure in three decades.

Flanagan, who met with the Baltimore City legislative delegation last night to outline the revised plan, gave examples of some of the routes that would not be cut:

Service on the No. 7 route along Pennsylvania Avenue, the historic "Main Street" of African-American Baltimore;

The No. 61 bus, serving Roland Park, keeping service to Penn Station along St. Paul Street;

The No. 23 route serving the Wildwood neighborhood;

Service to the Stella Maris health care complex in Dulaney Valley, though the route number may change from No. 8 to a new No. 12 connecting to the Lutherville light rail station;

The No. 17 bus serving the Baltimore-Washington International Airport business district and Arundel Mills;

Service to Villa Julie College and Greenspring Station, but on a rerouted M-10 bus while the M-12 will be eliminated;

Commuter bus service to Ellicott City, though buses might come less frequently;

No. 15 service to Perry Hall, instead of terminating at Overlea.

Some service cuts will go forward, Flanagan said. The No. 65 route, which carries an estimated average of 72 people a day on near-empty buses on a loop through the Fairfield peninsula, will be abolished. So will service to the Loveton business park, north of Hunt Valley, on the No. 8 line, though Flanagan vowed to work with area businesses to devise a substitute.

He expressed confidence that some 27,000 riders a day would benefit from a new No. 40 express route between Security Square Mall and Essex. And he said about 17,000 passengers on the north-south No. 8 would gain from more modern buses with expanded seating capacity.

"There will be fewer riders standing up; fewer riders will have buses pass them by," he said.

Flanagan said the changes will go forward Oct. 23 with no need for further public hearings. He would not give a definite time for "phase two" of the restructuring, saying it would move forward "as soon as we feel we could move forward with a stronger consensus."

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