Just when you thought MARC couldn't get any worse

February 14, 2011

I read with surprise Saturday's article about the changes to the MARC Penn Line service ("MTA plans new schedule for MARC Penn Line," Feb. 12). MARC is the most disorganized railroad I have ever seen. Management's proposal to reduce the number of cars per rush hour train and add a few trains to reduce the load on the engines is ludicrous. Management admitted that they don't even know if the length of the train is the problem.

I ride on train 407, which departs BWI at 6:37 a.m. and train 534, which departs Washington at 5:20 p.m. Both of these trains are standing room only. Reducing the number of cars is going to make the overcrowding much worse unless the additional trains depart less than 10 minutes before these trains. Without a fourth track, adding additional trains will only increase the existing congestion on the Penn Line.

The problem with MARC is not the length of the trains it is the reliance on Amtrak. Instead of relying on Amtrak for advice, MARC management should look at other commuter railroads that operate much more efficiently. MARC management should consult with Metro North in New York.

Metro North carries 1 million passengers a month and eliminated engines 25 years ago. Metro North uses self-propelled cars similar in looks to the cars on Washington Metro. All of the stations on Metro North have raised platforms and can accommodate 10 car trains. Metro North operates hundreds of trains on three divisions with an almost 100 percent on-time record. MARC should stop relying on Amtrak management with their decades old record of continuous failure and seek advice from other metro transit system.

Frank J. Giarratano, Ellicott City

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