MTA may trim service for buses, MARC to fight looming shortfall

Local,Taryn Luntz
The Maryland Transportation Authority is moving to eliminate MARC train service and commuter bus service on some holidays and to cut some bus and train service year-round in an effort to combat a looming budget shortage.

The proposal comes as demand for public transportation is booming, with MARC ridership climbing almost 10 percent over the past year.

Under the proposal, service would halt on all three MARC lines on Columbus Day, Veterans Day, the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.

The system averages about 34,000 riders daily, but about 9,900 on holidays, officials said.

The trains would operate on a limited holiday schedule on Christmas Eve and the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, including Jan. 2.

The agency would permanently cut four evening trains that run between Washington and Baltimore and reduce service between Washington and Martinsburg, W.Va., changes that would affect about 500 daily riders.

MTA also would eliminate several low-ridership commuter bus routes.

“Service cuts were a last resort,” MTA spokeswoman Stephanie Smith said. “The cuts were targeted to low-performing trips. In each case, the riders have options.”

MTA already has cut about 60 jobs in an attempt to slash the department’s administrative budget.

Bus rider Ann Vroom, who regularly commutes to Annapolis from the District of Columbia on the 921 route to care for her elderly mother, said she will be left with no alternatives if the state moves forward with its proposal to eliminate her bus line.

“This is the only public transportation line for folks going to/from jobs and tourists going to/from Annapolis — seeking an alternative to driving to Annapolis,” Vroom wrote in an e-mail to government officials and reporters.

MTA’s listed alternative route, which connect Kent Island, Annapolis and D.C., runs from D.C. to Annapolis only in the evenings.

Officials estimate the trains and bus service cuts will save the agency about $25 million and will help alleviate the agency’s tax revenue shortage, the result of plummeting gasoline and auto sales and a deteriorating economy.
View article comments Leave a comment