April 17, 2015

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM
Location: Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral Street)

Eunice Anderson, David Bouchard, Liz Briscoe, Robin Budish, Celeste Chavis, Amber Collins, Ryan Dorsey, Peter Duvall,  Kirby Fowler, Tamika Gauvin, Steve Gondol, Mark Heishman, Jeff LaNoue, Jim Leanos, Jamie Lucas, Mac McComas, Chris Merriam, Ed Myers, Cari Peri, Klaus Philipsen, Jeremy Pomp, Michael Romeo, Jimmy Rouse, Sandy Sparks, Kristin Speaker, Michael Walk

Moderator: Eunice Anderson, Chief, Neighborhood Library Services at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Eunice welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. She then introduced the first guest speaker, Kirby Fowler.

Speaker: Kirby Fowler, President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
Presentation: “The Impact and Potential of the Charm City Circulator”

Presentation highlights: BUILDING  BETTER  TRANSIT: The Charm City Circulator


  • Lots of transit modes, poor connectivity between modes
  • 83% of annual stream of funding comes from Downtown
  • Densest business and residential area in Greater Baltimore
  • Top visitor destination
  • Due to high cost of parking, cost-conscious employees need parking options farther from Downtown core, with links to Downtown

2.      Benefits

  • One bus takes 30 to 60 cars off the road
  • Every $1 transit investment yields $4 to $9 in spinoff economic benefit
  • Real estate values increase. Circulator is a selling point for Downtown buildings, such as:
    Lord Baltimore Hotel
    PMC Properties

3.      Best Practices

  • Service needs to differentiate: clean, fast, friendly, safe, reliable
  • Design matters.  Busses should have perimeter seating, large unobstructed windows, be low to the ground, easy-on/off
  • Headways should be short and frequent –
  • 10 minute goal
  • Per national calculation models provided by Kittelson & Associates, Inc., a change from 10- to 18-minute headways would result in a 13% drop in ridership.
  • Make it Free to Ride
  • Problems with charging any amount:
  • Equipment costs – kiosks, change machines
  • Legal and accounting costs
  •  Slows down service, creating more congestion and increasing idling
  • Reduces ridership
  • Increases incentive to own cars
  • Logical and simple routes
  • Purple and Orange Lines fit the bill; other routes are not as logical
  • Riders want to track approaching busses (NextBus)
  • Information is Power

4.      Opportunities

  • Attract riders who don’t otherwise use transit
  • Better connect Downtown assets (transit, business & residential nodes, attractions)
  • Appeal to drivers. Office parkers use Circulator to get to appointments (don’t have to pay to re-park)
  • Residents can visit other neighborhoods, keeping their cars in precious on-street parking spaces

5.      City Innovation

  • Kept it free & funded by parking tax increase
  • Created commuter routes on water taxi
  • Hired Veolia to operate
  • City DOT has sought and received additional funds from State of Maryland

6.      Parking Tax – Focal Point

  • Each monthly parker contributes approximately $8 per month towards the tax for the Circulator.
  • 83% of the parking tax is derived from areas served by the Charm City Circulator (Purple, Green, and Orange route lines plus a 1/4 –mile “walk shed” area, per national transit standards).
  • 2% of the parking tax is derived from additional areas served by the proposed 33rd Street extension, and 0.36% of the tax is derived from additional areas served by the Banner Route.

7.   Service Launch

  • Used pro-bono and MBE/WBE marketing firms
  • Held public naming contest
  • Extensive education about what the service was and was not designed to do (talking points, stakeholder presentations)
  • High amount of earned media (news, social)

8.   Success

  • Heavy ridership from day one
  • 15 million+ riders since 2010 kick-off
  • Riders include commuters, tourists, residents & “park & circulate” office workers
  • Funding stream from parking tax is stable – approximately $6 million per year

9.   Who are the riders?

  • 31% of riders have household incomes under $25,000.
  • 50% of riders have household incomes under $45,000.
  • ·45% of riders are Caucasian, 34% are African American.
  •  (Source – 2012 rider survey)

10.   Success

  • Companies & residential developers use Circulator as a selling point.
  • In polls, Downtown residents don’t bring cars: prefer transit & rideshare. 40% of surveyed Downtown residents do not own cars!
  • Has become part of new resident/employee
    brand consciousness – it makes them feel
    good about city working/living
  • Honored as best municipal service; Named “Best of Baltimore”

11.   Challenges & Next Steps

  • Popularity could harm the system if it’s extended too far without additional funds.
  • Can’t just have longer routes, need additional equipment to keep wait times short.
  • Need to monitor headways.
  • New funding is needed. Charging a fare will not work.
  • Why not use general fund dollars? Isn’t transit just as important as garbage collection, police protection, road repaving, etc.?
  • Enlightened management: transit isn’t a profit center. Investment brings numerous spin-off benefits (economic, environmental, quality-of-life)
  • If it’s a good service, people will use it!

Additional comments:
– DASH Bus operated in the city from 2000 – 2003.
– The circulator is funded by parking tax revenue in amount of six million annually. It is very important to have a sustainable funding source to continue service.
– The city deserves credit for the kickoff of the circulator which by all
accounts, is a great city service.
– The circulator has proven to be a “step into” people using other forms of
public transportation.
– The cost to purchase a circulator bus is $600,000 and $350,000 to operate
a bus annually.
– The circulator has a “one-loop” policy for ridership to discourage people
who want to stay on the bus and ride all day long.

Speaker: Steven Gondol Executive Director of Live Baltimore
Presentation: “Selling Baltimore City – the location of choice for residential living”

Presentation Highlights:  Baltimore City

1.  More Than 250 unique Neighborhoods
2. Baltimore City Population
3. 2010 – 2013 Population Comparison by City
4. 2014 Average Home Sales
5. Neighborhood Home Sales
6. Transportation and Convenience
7. Transit Score Methodology
8. Homeowners Property Tax Credit Program
9. Mayors Change to Grow Program

Additional comments:
– Live Baltimore is the single source for information about living in the city.
People can find information on renting and buying, as well as learn about our
local communities.
– What we have by way of public mass transit is good, but we need
additional:transit options.
– People are looking to locate in neighborhoods that are near, or on transit
lines. Live Baltimore is a good platform to advocate for better transit in the
– The outer bands of the city need better transit, and more transit options.

Discussion Summary:
Meeting attendees were given the opportunity at the conclusion of both presentations, to share their feedback and to provide suggestions, ideas and concerns with the guest speakers. Electronic copies of both PowerPoint presentations will be made available to the full Transit Choices group.

Jimmy Rouse: provided an update on a recent meeting with Robert Smith (MTA Administrator & CEO) and key staff, which was very positive to discuss 1) the development of a universal mobile app that will have General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) from all transit providers, 2) enhanced maps for light rail and metro that show interconnections with the circulator and water taxi, 3) bus maps that show all bus routes from a given stop. Additionally, Jimmy announced an upcoming meeting with Secretary Peter Rahn (MDOT) on May 7, 2015 to discuss the following:
1. Assistance with funding some of the Transit Choices “Quick Hits”
2. Implementation of Signal Prioritization on Howard Street from Mt. Royal
to Camden Yards
3. A State Commission to complete a new vision for multimodal,
comprehensive transit connectivity in the Baltimore region that is both
ambitious and feasible. The last “Regional Rail Study” was completed in
2002 which reflected the Red, Yellow (funding not feasible), Green
(funding not feasible) and Blue rail projects. Since 2002, there has been no
updated information.