When an area near Howard and Pratt streets collapsed Monday, the Maryland Department of Transportation had to respond quickly to help residents and commuters who frequently travel through Baltimore via personal vehicles and public transportation.
The sinkhole has resulted in multiple partial road closures in the downtown area, and six light rail stops, between the Camden and North Avenue stops, are temporarily suspended while repairs continue.
“The safety of our riders is our first priority,” MDOT Maryland Transit Administration chief operations officer Sean Adgerson said in a news release. “We look forward to the Baltimore City Department of Public Works promptly completing these repairs, so we can restore full service quickly and minimize the impact on our riders.”
MTA put in place a “free bus bridge” for light rail passengers to minimize transportation delays. The shuttle buses pick passengers up from the North Avenue light rail station and drive through the city, closely following the light rail’s usual path through Baltimore.
The last stop on the shuttle bus is Camden Station, where passengers can continue their commute on the light rail heading south.
The same shuttle bus service is provided for light rail passengers coming from the south and heading north. Once light rail passengers make it to Camden Station, they transfer to the buses and ride until they arrive at North Street station.
Residents of Baltimore City and Baltimore County rely on the light rail to get around the area, and an Orioles home game Friday night put the light rail-shuttle bus hybrid service to the test. Orioles fans lined up at light rail stations in Baltimore County as they began their commute to Camden Yards.
Wayne Jung of Timonium said that if he had known the light rail service was interrupted for six stops, he would have driven to the game and paid for parking, which costs significantly more than the usual $1.90 fare for a one-way light rail ticket.
“I thought [the light rail] was going down to Lexington Market, and we were just going to have to walk another three [light rail stops],” Jung said. “Now, I’m unhappy I bought this pass for today."
Jung said he wasn’t aware of the multiple light rail closures nor the temporary shuttle bus service between North Avenue and Camden Yards.
Another Timonium resident, Chuck Cook, said he and his family are dedicated Orioles fans and would not miss Friday’s game, “especially on a Friday night [with] nothing going on tomorrow.” Cook opted to take the light rail into the city for the baseball game, but he also didn’t know about the six closed light rail stops.
The light rail arrived in Timonium around 5:45 p.m. Friday. When it arrived at North Avenue, there were two buses waiting to shuttle passengers and eager Orioles fans to Camden Yards.
One bus, full of passengers from the Camden Yards light rail stop, had just arrived at the North Avenue light rail station. They hurried to the light rail to continue their northbound commute.
The shuttle bus arrived at Camden Yards around 6:30 p.m., a typical-length commute for what Jung called a 30- to 40-minute ride to Camden Yards from the Timonium fairgrounds light rail stop.
Once they got off the bus, Jung and Cook expressed their surprise at how quickly they arrived to the baseball stadium, considering the light rail closures and temporary shuttle bus system.
“It’s an inconvenience, but just minor. It’s not the end of the world,” Cook said.