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Making Baltimore commuter friendly [Letter]

9:00 AM EST, January 3, 2014

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That was a good editorial on the expansion of MARC commuter rail service, but I have to echo the sentiment of some of my fellow MARC monthly ticket holders at the loss of our access to Amtrak on the weekends ("Weekends on the MARC," Jan. 2).

Amtrak used to honor MARC monthly tickets on selected Amtrak trains between Washington and Baltimore on weekends. While the Maryland Transit Administration paid for this access, it seems unfortunate the MTA couldn't have at least negotiated a "step up" fare option where these ticket holders could pay a little extra and ride an express train between D.C. and Baltimore (Amtrak only makes two stops). Sure, it's not a huge deal, but if we are trying to move toward a more seamless 21st Century transit system that could encourage residing in Baltimore City, then that could have been a bonus.

The discussion on extending the Charm City Circulator up to Johns Hopkins University is a good one as well, especially if they can manage to have it connect to the MTA Hampden Shuttle if it cannot serve Hampden directly. Again, this could connect this neighborhood and retail district with Pennsylvania Station and potentially to commuters or tourists interested in the area.

Also, the creation of a northbound spur between Penn Station and the Central Light Rail Line is in order. The bridge infrastructure is currently in place. This would allow for the creation of a Hunt Valley to Penn Station light rail train to funnel riders from the north into Penn who are bound to D.C. and points south. There are many commuters who live north of Baltimore who use the light rail to get to Penn. Currently, they have to disembark at Mount Royal and walk. Again, this is not a huge deal, but improving connectivity could go a long way to making Baltimore and communities along the Central Light Rail Line more attractive to D.C. workers interested in a lower cost of living.

C. Njoku, Baltimore

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