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Video to show other cities' transit lines

A group of mostly pro-Red Line sponsors will show a film Wednesday evening at the downtown Enoch Pratt Free Library intended to show Baltimoreans what other cities have been doing to integrate transit lines into their communities.

While this presentation will likely play up the virtues of surface light rail, it could be useful information for folks whose only exposure to light rail has been the circa 1991 north-south light rail line along Howard Street.

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Whatever decision is made on the Red Line, it shouldn't be based on a notion that the current line is the state of the art.

The release follows below.

What can Baltimoreans learn from other cities building light rail transit lines? Are there lessons from Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles that can help increase public involvement in building the east-west Red Line, mitigate disruptions and respond to community concerns?

A film screening and panel discussion will explore those possibilities on Wednesday, July 8 at the Enoch Pratt Central Library at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The 16-minute film, "Transit Around the Nation," is an outgrowth of trips last fall by 60 neighborhood activists, elected leaders, developers and government officials to four cities building light rail lines. The travelers reunited a few weeks later to talk about what they saw, heard and learned that could improve communication with neighborhoods and businesses during the Red Line's planning and construction.

The idea of the 2008 trips was "to expose people to the reality beyond Baltimore City and Baltimore County" in taking on a light-rail project that holds much potential but also prompts reminders of unhappy past experiences, says Otis Rolley III, President and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, which sponsored the transit trips along with the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA), Baltimore City, and the Maryland Transit Administration.

The four transit tours allowed participants to understand more about economic opportunities, transit-oriented development and construction mitigation techniques. They spoke with community activists, housing officials, neighborhood outreach leaders, government officials and people living near the light rail lines.

During the tours, participants posted real-time updates on Twitter, a social networking service, and pictures on Flickrs, a photo sharing service. The Megaphone Project interviewed participants during these trips and afterward and produced the 16-minute documentary.

The film screening will be followed by a panel discussion in Wheeler Auditorium at the Enoch Pratt Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street in downtown Baltimore. The July 8 event begins at 5:30 p.m. and is expected to run until 7 p.m.

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