Baltimore County officials on Thursday launched an online transportation survey as county leaders look to expand transit choices. Among those options, as noted in a letter that County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. sent to Maryland Department of Transportation officials last month, is a circulator bus for Catonsville.

The state is in the process of revising its fiscal year 2020-2025 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), or capital budget for transit projects.. Olszewski is seeking state money and getting projects added to that budget.

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He wants to expand the CountyRide service and gain planning funds to assess circulators in Catonsville, Owings Mills and White Marsh, as well as secure funding for a proposed Towson Circulator.

“How easily people can get around has a major impact on quality of life, but for too long Baltimore County has been focused on roads alone,” Olszewski said in a statement.

County Council Chairman Tom Quirk, who represents Catonsville, said he would “definitely” be in favor of such a shuttle in Catonsville, and would like to see it connect Catonsville and Arbutus, as well as connect some further destinations, like Heavy Seas Brewing, to more centralized areas.

Officials said the survey is “a step in a larger effort” to diversify transit options in the county and help people “get around more easily and more efficiently.” The 21-question survey allows residents to rank transit options that are most important to them, and provides an open space for other suggestions or comments.

County officials did not say how long the survey would be open.

A draft of the state plan is currently available online and includes some planning money for Baltimore County, including about $352,000 for safety improvements on I-83 and widening and other upgrades to I-695.

Olszewski’s letter to MDOT requests more than a dozen additional projects to be included in the CTP. The letter asks for supplemental capital funds for the proposed Towson Circulator, a free bus that would travel between fixed routes in the Towson area. Planning money for the circulator has been set aside by the County Council, and now the county is waiting to hear back from the U.S. Department of Transportation on whether it will be granted federal funding for the project.

“We want it up and running by 2021,” County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents the Towson area, said. Some major developments in the suburb — including the once-delayed Towson Row and Circle East — will be complete by then, Marks said, which means there should be plenty of ridership for a free bus line.

“There’s no ability to add more roads to Towson,” Marks said. “We need more bike lanes, we need to connect sidewalks, and more operational improvements.”

Olszewski is also requesting funding to complete a “comprehensive plan for the Baltimore region that crosses jurisdictional lines” to cut commute times and provide for transportation facilities.

“The targeted focus should be on bus routes and rail services with a heightened emphasis on capital, policy, and programmatic initiatives,” the letter reads.

The county is also requesting funding for roadway improvements, including areas along White Marsh Boulevard and Philadelphia Road, Wilkens Avenue and Kenwood Avenue and “multi-modal” improvements at York Road at Burke Avenue in Towson.

State officials will continue to make stops in all Maryland counties and Baltimore City to discuss the CTP through Nov. 5.

In the latest episode of “The County,” a podcast produced by Baltimore County, Olszewski said there are two major obstacles to transit in Baltimore County.

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“One is just the traffic and physically getting around, especially on the west side of the Beltway,” Olszewski said.

“Then for other people, [it is] last-mile connectivity. Where transit options exist, whether it’s a bus or the Metro out in Owings Mills, we find that people once they all are off a stop, there’s a distance and a gap between the terminus of that ride and their actual employment, or those other needs — work, school, child care.”

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