The long-delayed Charm City Circulator Bus made a cameo appearance Friday in Harbor East, as city and business leaders kicked off a campaign aimed at encouraging workers and residents to ease the bustling neighborhood's traffic by taking transit or a water taxi, biking or walking.
People who turned out for the event at the Katyn Memorial got a chance to hop aboard the new hybrid bus, but they still can't ride it anywhere. Production problems and a slumping economy continue to hold up delivery of the 21 buses it is acquiring, city officials said. A month ago, they said the bus could be running by the end of summer - which was Monday - but now talk about a fall debut.
"We've got to get it right and get the right product," said Laurie Schwartz, director of the Waterfront Partnership, a coalition of businesses, residents and city officials. Still, "it's taken way longer than anyone ever expected and hoped," Schwartz said.
The partnership and city officials announced their initiative, "A Smarter Way to Get There," targeted at getting those who work, shop and live in congested Harbor East to get out of their cars. A survey of major Harbor East employers found about 60 percent of their workers drive alone to and from their jobs, while only 14 percent take transit and 4 percent walk or bike, Schwartz said.
Whole Foods gave out snacks and water, while others offered advice on bike safety and transportation alternatives officials hope will ease traffic woes. Among them is a Harbor East shuttle van service, which ferries commuters between Katyn circle and the Shot Tower Metro stop and City Hall. Since its debut a month ago, ridership has grown to about 25 or 30 daily each way, Schwartz said.
The Partnership, a sponsor of the initiative, along with the city and area businesses, has unveiled a Web site - smarterwaytogetthere.org - that outlines travel options for workers and residents.