MARC commuter trains attracting record ridership

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Kytja Weir,Metro and Traffic

Commuters are flocking to the MARC train service, with the Maryland trains scoring record ridership in April.

Ridership on the Penn, Camden and Brunswick lines reached an average of 38,112 trips per day last month, the Maryland Transit Administration said Tuesday. The previous record was set in November when the trains carried an average of 37,034 riders per day.

That's an increase of 4.3 percent compared with April 2012, with the biggest jump at 5.4 percent on the Penn Line that runs between Baltimore and D.C.'s Union Station. The line is the busiest on the service with some 25,500 daily passengers.

The Camden Line's ridership, however, declined 2.1 percent. That line, which also travels between Baltimore and D.C., carries the fewest riders.

State officials credit new train equipment and on-time arrivals for spurring the growth. MARC trains arrived on schedule approximately 95 percent of the time during April.

The train service is also slated to expand in coming months with new weekend service on the Penn Line, following a state transportation funding measure signed into law this month. No date has been set, said MTA spokesman Terry Owens.

MARC's Virginia counterpart, Virginia Railway Express, also has seen record ridership, with increases for each of the past five years as on-time performance has improved. Average daily ridership for April was 19,354 compared with 19,057 in 2012. But the gains are tempering somewhat as fewer riders are taking the trains on Mondays and Fridays, said VRE spokesman Mark Roeber.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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