October 14, 2015

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

Pat Bennett, Henry Bogdan, Madison Boris, David Bouchard, Robin Budish, Liz Cornish, Sally Costello, Rufus Davis, Caitlin Doolin, Ryan Dorsey, Jen Fischetti, Tony Green, Mark Heishman, Greg Hinchcliffe, Eliz Hines, Valorie LaCour, Jeff LaNoue, Jon Laria, Brooke Lierman, Michael McDaniel, Ed Myers, Anikwenze Ogbue, Klaus Philipsen, Chris Regan, Michael Romeo, Jimmy Rouse, Greg Smith, Daniel Sparaco, Sandy Sparks, Kristin Speaker

Moderator: Kristin Speaker, Executive Director at the Charles Street Development Corporation welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. Kristin then introduced the first guest speaker.

Speaker: Jon Laria, Esq. – Chair of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission
Presentation:  “Report and Action Plan from the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission”


  • Biking is growing nationally – Why?

1. Sustainability
2. Safety
3. Public Health
4. Equity and Opportunity
5. Economy

  • Cities that are doing well

1. New York
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Minneapolis
4. Indianapolis
5. Pittsburgh


1. $3.1M spent in total for on-street bike infrastructure
2. $22.5M spent on building Jones Falls Trail and Gwynns Falls Trail
3. No money allocated for maintenance!!


The Bicycle Master Plan’s overall vision is to implement over 253 miles of bike facilities and enable 8% of commuters to bike as their primary transportation option by 2030.

Provides a guide for implementing a bike network:

1. Create connections to neighborhoods, institutions, parks and other major destinations
2. Complement transit
3. Design for safety and comfort of riders 8 to 80
4. Build equity


Created in March 2015 by Mayor Rawlings-Blake to help get us from “as-is”to a more bikeable and bike-friendly future


1. Charles Street design changed to buffered bike lane instead of “floating” bike lane
2. Protected bike lane being added to Roland Avenue Resurfacing Project
3. RPP Parking preserved in Maryland Ave and Madison Ave cycle track designs
4. Cycle track included in Mount Royal Streetscape


1. Invitations for Bids (IFB) for sponsorship acquisition firm advertised and closed
2. Final Vendor/Operator RFP advertised
3. Advertise and award RFP Fall 2015
4. Charm City Bike Share to launch 9 months after contract award


1. Bikemore

• Improved awareness of the importance of biking to leaders
• Over 2,500 followers on Facebook

2. Baltimore Bike Party

• Has reached over 700 riders at popular events
• Mainstreamed bike culture in Baltimore

3. Bike Maryland

Additional Comments:

  • Jon Laria acknowledged Nate Evans (Bike Maryland), Caitlin Doolin (BCDOT) and Liz Cornish Bikemore) as important partners and for the great job they are doing to advance the biking agenda.
  • Bikes are a useful mode of transportation and Baltimore has great potential to be a bike friendly city.
  • The BCDOT was recognized for their efforts to bring Bikeshare to Baltimore. The initial program will have 250 bikes and 25 stations. A key challenge is going to be supporting the program financially.
  • Although the bicycle master plan is a great plan, it does not specify how to accomplish nor fund the objectives. Next steps are to decide what to do with the plan.
  • The city has received 2.3 million from SHA and MDOT for bike improvements which is a mega step forward.

Speaker: Valorie LaCour, Chief Transportation Planning, Baltimore City
Presentation: “Water Transit Services Master Plan”

Presentation Highlights:  Water Transit Status Report

  • Existing water transit services
    1. Water Taxi –
    City Responsibilities: Landings
    Operator Responsibilities:
    – Financial risk
    – Marketing and sales
    – Website

BWT pays City 7% of fares and charters – $160,000 annually

2. Harbor Connector –
City Responsibilities:
– Landings
– Raven and Oriole
Operator Responsibilities:
           – Marketing and Sales
– Website
– Third vessel and back-up vessels
– Maintenance

City pays approximately $644,000 annually with Under Armour contributing $94,540 in FY 14.

3. Dockmaster Responsibilities:
            – Collection of transient boaters docking fees
– Coordinate scheduling of visiting ships to the Inner Harbor
including tall ships and US Naval vessels
– Inner Harbor special events

  • Water Taxi Observations:
    – Water Taxi operates as a peak season visitor attraction with very limited service during winter months.
    – One in six waterfront visitors utilize the Water Taxi – there is additional visitor market for Water Taxi services, especially by Baltimore area Friends and Family visitors.
    – Water Taxi offers limited utility for Inner Harbor residents. An estimated 375 frequent floater passes were sold during 2014.
  • Water Taxi Recommendations:
    – Continue Water Taxi / Harbor Connector business structure with private operator bearing financial risk and benefits of the Water Taxi while the City bears the cost of the Harbor Connector
    – Rebrand the Water Taxi as an amenity – it is not a transportation service
    – Through the RFP and contract negotiation:
    – or the rebranded Water Taxi, develop joint marketing and ticket sales products with other Inner Harbor venues.
    – Provide year round service that offers usable service for Inner Harbor residents
    – Develop lower cost monthly or seasonal pass products that encourage usage by Inner Harbor residents and Friends and Family visitors
  • Harbor Connector Observations:
    – Harbor Connector ridership has grown quickly with new routes
    – Harbor Connector ridership is related to work trips and peak hours
    – Except for Harbor Connector Route 1 – there is poor productivity during the mid-day period
    – It is difficult to differentiate the Harbor Connector from the Water Taxi
    – There is little coordinated wayfinding signage between the Harbor Connector and Charm City Circulator
    – The Oriole and Raven have higher deck heights than floating docks requiring portable stairs to be deployed.
  • Harbor Connector Recommendations:
    – Rebrand the Harbor Connector so that it is an extension of the Charm City Circulator.
    – Improve signage at the landings and wayfinding signs at the Charm City Circulator stops to clearly brand the Harbor Connector as a separate service from the Water Taxi.
    – Determine if the HC 3 route should be operated as a “bridge” route to provide the pedestrian connection between Rusty Scupper and Harbor East until the proposed bridge is constructed.  The annual cost for 7 day per week / 18 hour per day “bridge” route service is estimated to be $650,000.
    – Reduce mid-day service on HC routes 2 and 3.  (Savings $130,000 per year).
    – Initiate discussions with Under Armour and other Harbor East Employers to determine if they will financially support the Harbor Connector.
    – Improve the floating docks at Harbor Connector landings so that passengers may board the vessels without the portable stairs.
  • Dockmaster Observations:
    – The Dockmaster’s office has multiple functions.
    – The Dockmaster’s transient docking service competes with Inner Harbor private marinas.
    – A significant amount of the Finger Piers and Westwall capacity is utilized by Baltimore Steamship, Seadog Ventures and Spirit Cruises leaving reduced inventory for the Dockmaster to sell to transient boaters.
    – The Dockmaster’s current technology does not permit on-line advance reservations or on-line payment of dockage fees as is possible at the private Inner Harbor marinas.
    – The City’s current transient boater facilities do not have the necessary amenities for accommodating pleasure craft.
    – Due to a lack of a tender, the Dockmaster’s staff utilizes a golf cart to attempt collection at piers across the harbor.
  • Dockmaster Recommendations:
    – The Dockmaster’s office should focus on scheduling docking locations for visiting ships and should no longer provide transient docking services.
    – The City should review the function of the Finger Piers and Westwall as berthing locations for the Baltimore Steamship, Seadog Ventures and Spirit Cruises.  If improvements are needed to accommodate these operations, they should be paid for by each operator.
    – To the extent that there is dock capacity remaining after the leases have utilized the Finger Piers and Westwall, the City should contract with private marina operators to provide the transient boating services.
  • Water Transit Markets:
    a. Visitors – Water Taxi (Overnight, Friends and family
    b. Inner Harbor Residents – Water Transit (both)
    c. Commuters – Harbor Connector
  • Future Services Observations and Recommendations:


o   New off-street parking is needed for Harbor Connector customers in the Locust Point / Riverside area.
o   A new water transit route from the Boston Street / S. Clinton area
o   A Westport water transit route is likely to attract a greater share of commuters from 295 and I-95 than the a Cherry Hill based

o   Develop capital and operating cost estimates
– Future Route
– Landing and Parking
– Appropriate boats for all weather conditions

Additional Comments:

  • Valorie LaCour emphasized that Baltimore has three current water transit systems 1)Water Taxi, 2) Dock Master, 3) Connector
  • The present system has a branding issue given that the Connector is free and the Water Taxi charges a fee.
  • Wayfinding needs to be improved.
  • The water transit system needs larger boats that can sustain all weather conditions.
  • The harbor Connector commuter (free) service  carried 200,000 passengers in 2014.
  • The “Water Transit Services Master Plan” is open for public comments for the next 30-90 days.

The complete “Water Transit Study” can be viewed here: www.archive.baltimorecity.gov/portals/0/agencies/transportation/public%20downloads/Water%20Transit%20Strategic%20Plan%20Final%208-6-15.pdf

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: thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and acknowledged guest speakers, Jon Laria and Valorie LaCour for their interesting presentations. He then gave an update on recent Transit Choices activities:

  • In an effort to impact the transit conversation at a city and state level regarding a vision for transit, recent meetings were held with Craig Williams – Governor Hogan’s Chief of Staff, Marty Madden – Special Advisor to Governor Hogan, Keiffer Mitchell – Special Advisor to Governor Hogan,  Paul Comfort – MTA Administrator and Kevin Quinn – Director Office of Planning and Programming, MTA. At these meetings, Jimmy shared a “Regional Transit Strategy” report prepared by Transit Choices in collaboration with the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Maryland and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association. The report was very well received and Jimmy expressed his gratitude on behalf of Transit Choices, for being able to have input on the path forward for transportation planning in Baltimore and beyond.
  • At a meeting with Delegate Maggie McIntosh, she reiterated the importance of imparting to key legislators the need to have enough money in the budget to make major improvements to our present transit system. Her number one priority is to work on strategies to better connect citizens in East and West Baltimore to job opportunities in a timely and reliable manner through public transportation.
  • Transit Choices has requested a meeting with Mayor Rawlings-Blake to help craft a vision for transit within her remaining 14 months in office.
  • Transit Choices, Citizens Planning & Housing Association, 1000 Friends of Maryland and the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, will be hosting a City Council Candidates Forum: “Leadership for Improving Transportation” on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 (for all candidates running in districts 1-8) and Wednesday, December 16, 2015 (for all candidates running in districts 9-14 to include City Council President). These events will be held from 8:00 AM -10:00 AM at the Lord Baltimore Hotel, 20 W. Baltimore Street – Baltimore, MD 21201. Marc Steiner (Executive Producer/Host Marc Steiner Show, WEAA), will serve as moderator.

Each candidate will be given a questionnaire with seven transit related questions. All responses will be public record. Only candidates who have completed the questionnaire can participate in the forums.

At the forums, each candidate will be given a specific amount of time based on the number of participating candidates to respond to questions that will be provided prior to each event.

  • In January 2016, there will be a discussion about restructuring the Transit Choices work groups to create Ad-hoc committees with the focus on strategy and implementation of specific agenda goals.