The official voice for MARC riders is protesting a plan to change the schedule of one of the commuter train's lines.
The MARC Riders Advisory Council told Maryland and West Virginia officials that it opposes the changes that amount to cuts in service on the Brunswick line that runs from Martinsburg, W. Va., into Union Station.
“We believe that the proposed schedule will do little to improve reliability and on-time performance, while worsening service for a substantial proportion of MARC riders,” the council wrote to the state transportation secretaries in letters sent Tuesday.
MARC officials have proposed changing the service on the line to increase reliability and the overall speed of the service. The schedule has not been overhauled since 2001 yet needs more breathing room to give riders enough time to board, officials have said. The proposed start date for the change is Jan. 30.
But the proposed changes go “far beyond minor adjustments” to the schedule and would reduce service at several Montgomery County stations, the council said. It also would mean an earlier departure for the last train bound for West Virginia each night.
The council is calling on officials to hold formal public hearings, more structured than the currently planned town hall meetings scheduled for the first week of January. MARC officials also are seeking input through an online survey.
The council also issued a challenge to the state of West Virginia, asking it to kick in money to expand the storage facility in Martinsburg to aid the Maryland-funded service. West Virginia riders currently pay a surcharge on their tickets but their state does not contribute to MARC's operations.