I cannot articulate in enough detail precisely how badly Baltimore screwed up building its Metro/LRT system. The original plan from the 1960s is incredible. We can quibble about some of the details, but it had good bones and would have made getting around the city without a car substantially easier. Instead we have:
- An underutilized Metro line shuttling between Downtown and Owings Mills that sorely needs expansion and integration if it wants to be actually useful, but (1) the extension to Johns Hopkins Hospital put the kibosh on any extension that doesn’t go northeast and give the line a wide U-shape that is decidedly not good, and (2) the ridership numbers for any northeast expansion doesn’t seem to pencil.
- A light rail line that runs along a very strong north-south corridor but skirts or outright avoids pretty much everywhere worth going to in that corridor; e.g. Towson, JHU, Penn Station (which got a piddly shuttle for its troubles), the Inner Harbor, and Federal Hill, but is just close enough to the ideal alignment that fixing it wouldn’t be worth it.
- On top of all the usual crap you encounter in a master-planed US rapid transit system w/r/t terrible headways and overreliance on enormous park-and-ride lots.
This is a salvage job in part meant to correct as many of these errors as possible. Notes:
- The skeleton of this thing is based off the Baltimore RER map I did four years (!) ago.
- The A line is the Metro Subway (what a name) plus a possible alignment for the Green Line (I’ve not seen one yet that’s good, but this one at least is straight, right along US-1). The E line is more or less the Red Line with a few twists and turns changed around on the east side. The F is original, running on Charles Street in town, York Road in the north, and Hanover Street and MD-2 in the south (the commercial strip between Brooklyn and Glen Burnie is appealing). Together they’re a bastardized version of the original 1960s plan. Not ideal, but better than what’s there now.
- The 101 and 102 are the WB&A interurban to Washington and Annapolis, whose alignment the light rail took over. The 103 is the laughable Yellow Line, with its bizarre hook-shaped route and reverse branching with the existing light rail in the city center. Most stops along the interurban are flag stops because that’s the way it is on the Norristown High-Speed Line west of Philly, and this intermittent user of the NHSL thinks that’s a really good idea given the stop density.
- The B/C/D, the single least justifiable part of this thing, are basically the old N line in the first map. It’s basically a complicated shuttle service for cruise ship passengers, people alighting from Eastern Shore ferry services at Tide Point, and industrial workers at Wagners and Hawkins Points. Together with the 101/102/103 they run along Howard Street where the light rail is, only along a grade-separated alignment, because having all those new light rail systems run on a dedicated ROW in the suburbs but on-street in the city center was a very, very stupid idea.
- So that’s, what, six services running like 48 tph all together in a four-track express-local configuration (only way to not have lousy headways) on a crap alignment west of downtown whose main utility is in connecting the city’s three regional/intercity rail terminals (and, occasionally, the airport). Nice.
- The people mover is there so the 103 can run to Columbia without reversing in and out awkwardly at BWI.
- Had to play fast and loose with Baltimore City’s municipal borders at the southeast corner because otherwise it’d look more awkward down there than it already does.
See you in like two months.