The Maryland Transit Administration is in the midst of a "comprehensive review" of its bus network in Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs — the first in more than a decade — and it is about to open the process to the public through a series of workshops.
"It's important that we get this done," said Robert Smith, the MTA's administrator and CEO. "We've waited much too long."
The effort, known as the Bus Network Improvement Project, launched last month and is one component of the larger Transit Modernization Program, officials said. It will focus on improving bus services by matching resources to demand and enhancing the overall "connectivity" between the MTA's 62 bus routes and other transit options in the region, Smith said.
"We can really maximize how [transit options] work together to get people from where they live to where they can go to medical appointments, where they shop and where they work," he said. "This is something that is not just a plan to do a plan."
Smith said other goals of the plan will be shaped as the process continues, and by public input.
The review work is likely to cost in the area of $500,000 as the MTA commissions studies on new initiatives or programs. Future funding for any changes to the MTA system would come through the reallocation of existing funds or through future capital or budget requests to the state.
The MTA has already been collecting some input on its website, through a new portal known as the "Mindmixer," on which comments from users can be liked by other users and popular ideas can be promoted, said Michael Walk, the MTA's acting director of service development.
"It's kind of like a Facebook for communities," he said.
Input from residents will be rolled into a plan for enhancing the system produced by the MTA, which will go back before the public before a final plan is set into place for implementation beginning in August 2014, Walk said.
The plan will be rolled out over the next five years, he said.
The "Mindmixer" website can be accessed at mtamaryland.mindmixer.com.
The public workshop schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, Oct. 15, noon to 2 p.m., State Center, 201. W. Preston Street in Baltimore.
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Rosedale branch library, 6105 Kenwood Ave. in Rosedale.
Saturday, Oct. 19, noon to 2 p.m., North Point branch library, 1716 Merritt Boulevard in Baltimore.
Monday, Oct. 21, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Towson library branch, 320 York Road in Towson.
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Edmondson Avenue library branch, 4330 Edmondson Avenue in Baltimore.
Thursday, Oct. 24, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Brooklyn library branch, 1 East 11th Ave. in Brooklyn.
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