Bus shelter gives a bad first impression

WATCHDOG

June 05, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- The bus shelter on St. Paul Street near Penn Station is in disrepair and has no directional map.

THE BACKSTORY -- Douglas Manger of Pikesville wrote an impassioned complaint to Watchdog about trying to take the bus after getting off a train at Penn Station during a recent rainstorm:

"Imagine your excitement visiting Baltimore for the first time. You step off the train and on a whim decide to take the city bus to gain a feel for the urban landscape. The porter directs you to the St. Paul side of the station. ... Dodging raindrops you stride out of the station, hang a left and quickly set your sights on what appears to be a bus shelter.

"You pull up short," Manger continues. "No point in trying to get out of the wind and rain. The shelter has no walls. No point in worrying about how to read the routing map. There is no signage, maps, or any other directional information to be found. The only mark of distinction is a piece of graffiti. Lost and confused, you head back to the station for help."

Manger added: "The shelter has been in this shape for at least four years without any maintenance."

Sharon DeHaney, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transit Administration, said plans are in the works to replace the shelter's cover and add panels so there is a place to hang a schedule.

Many of the estimated 300 to 500 bus shelters in the area are owned by private companies that make money through advertising. City and county governments and a few community associations own a handful. Sharon Wicker, also an MTA spokeswoman, said the shelter on St. Paul Street had been jointly owned by Amtrak and Baltimore City and is now owned by CBS Outdoor, an advertising company.

The MTA said work on the St. Paul Street shelter is to begin this summer.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- The MTA's Wicker directs people to Brad Hall, project manager for CBS Outdoor, 410-825-2651. The number for the MTA is 410-539-5000.

UPDATE

Watchdog reported on April 17 that there was a gap in a section of fence protecting CSX railroad tracks at the end of Charles Street in South Baltimore. Residents complained that the gap attracted prostitutes, drug users and vagrants.

As of yesterday, the hole had not been repaired.

Robert Sullivan, a spokesman for CSX, said maintaining fencing along railroad rights of way is difficult. He said the fence at the end of Charles was replaced two months ago, only to be torn down within days. "We're trying to figure out the best way to handle this," Sullivan said. "It's very difficult to maintain fencing. People will cut it, they will flatten it."

The spokesman would not make any promises on when, or if, the fence would be repaired.

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