October 7, 2013


Charlie Bond, Robin Budish, Art Cohen, Grant Corley, Kelly Cross (Chair), Peter Duvall, Kathy Epstein, Mel Freeman, Bob Hellauer, D’Juan (DJ) Hopewell, Mac McComas, Klaus Philipsen, Michael Ricketts, Steven Rivelis, Jimmy Rouse, Jill Sorensen, Sandy Sparks, Maris St. Cyr

Welcome and Introductions:

Kelly Cross welcomed all attendees and thanked them for their participation.

Improvements to the Present Rail Systems (Light Rail, Metro, Red Line): Klaus Philipsen

Klaus shared his list of short-term, easy-to-achieve items for improving the existing light rail line that can all be accomplished in 2014:

  1. Signage: system maps, next train real time. Betamore MRLN
  2. Branding: overall transit identity, train design (paint)
  3. Speed: signal priority, Howard Street
  4. Reliability: on-time performance, no missed trains.
  5. Comfort & safety: Example: Fix all windscreens in shelters, Example: Create a “Transit Day” when choice users can be trained and guided by chaperones in ticket buying and mastering the systems. Modeled on Bike to Work Day.
  6. Event capacity: operations after stadium events.
  7. Bikes at stations and trains: Example: install hooks on trains to allow hooking up two bikes instead of blocking the doorway.
  8. Tickets: vending machines, transfer to other modes. Example: Allow only Smart Cards like Atlanta or Boston.
  9. Land use: Access from surrounding areas (we would need a list of specific obstacles making it hard to walk to stations).
  10. Accountability / performance measures. Example: During the program create a website with daily performance measures for on-time performance, ridership and other easy to measure items.
Discussion Points:
  • With the Red Line coming, now is the time to improve the Light Rail image by making overall improvements (such as increasing the speed) to the system. Everything is in place to make it work – just needs action.
  • Transit vehicles should have low platforms for wheelchairs & baby carriages and bike hooks provide more stability for bikes.
  • On time performance is a key issue. The MTA says it has a 98% “on time” based on 10 minute wait times.
  • One problem is that there are not enough personnel to cover all routes. If someone calls in sick, there may be no replacement.
  • Signage: there is a legible line map but it does not reflect the green, purple, or red lines (map should represent a complete system), not just some existing routes/lines.
  • Branding suggestion: color code cars (red, yellow) to make them easily identifiable.
  • Light Rail looks like “heavy rail”.
  • If you build and maintain nice shelters, people will feel more comfortable and safe.
  • MTA: go to “Smart Cards” only, saves money on ticket machines and should be sold at non-MTA facilities. Create a universal transit card.
  • Land use surveys should be done around each Light Rail stop to determine if the cross walks are safe.
  • There should be accountability measures put in place on a 6 month and 12 month basis to determine:
    1. daily ridership increase
    2. total trip duration
    3. on time performance (not defined with a 10 minute differential). Presently, there is no incentive to improve the system on time performance.
  • Given that Baltimore has a low fare box recovery, if MTA were more efficient would it result in more fare box revenue?

Future Rail Systems: Art Cohen

Art shared his vision of a long-range approach to a transit future for the Baltimore Metro Area and presented a “Baltimore Regional Transfer Points” map. Attached to the “Rail Transit” group email are the first and second drafts that Art distributed in PDF format.

Discussion Points:
  • What is public transportation?
  • Transit can’t operate in a climate of fear.
  • Some transit routes don’t have high ridership.
  • Establishing a relationship with Baltimore County & Baltimore City is important from a transit perspective.
  • What could be conceivable for a transit regional system by 2035?
  • We need planning with more “teeth”.
  • Do we want to engage in the process to look futuristically at a transit system? Most are focused on the urban core, but we should also think about future transit hubs.

Short Term / Long Term List of Improvements: Jimmy Rouse

  • Jimmy discussed identifying short term (low hanging fruit by 2014) and longer term list of improvements (drastic changes to create a truly integrated transit system) to take to the city and state by December 2013.
  • Yellow Line and line out to White Marsh are no longer in the planning process.
  • Behind the Red Line, no other future transit is being planned.
Discussion Points:
  • Urban Core has high opportunities to move people around. There are things that can be done to improve transit that would not be in conflict with overall regional transit.
  • Urban Core long term is Columbia, Towson, Annapolis and Baltimore. We should work to strengthen those transit hubs.
  • Create transit hubs with infrastructure capabilities for additional revenue streams.
  • On the BNIP (Bus Improvement Network Project) site there is a 30 or 40 page document that talks about pockets where transportation is going to be needed.
  • How do you message to disjointed communities? Important to think about and address.

Action Items

  • The work group will come up with a “quick hits” list of three (3) or four (4) low cost, high visibility projects that can be accomplished by 2014.
  • Peter Duvall agreed to work on Middle-Term Rail Transit Improvements to include streetcars.