Councilman David Marks, who represents the Towson area, has said a transportation component is essential as the downtown Towson area grows, with a new multiplex of movie theaters already open and the $300 million Towson Row project among many housing, shopping and restaurant developments on the horizon.
Last year, the Towson Circulator Study Committee, a subcommittee of the Greater Towson Committee, issued a report stating that "the potential for a Towson Circulator/Shuttle exists, and that it could benefit the Towson community and the continued vitality and attractiveness of the core of the Towson."
Pat Keller, deputy chief administrative officer at the Maryland Transit Administration, is overseeing an MTA study of the idea of a circulator. Keller said he expects a final report on the MTA study to be issued in February or March and that it will focus on such questions as whether a circulator is feasible, what the routes would be, and, "Does it have a future?"
Keller declined to pass judgment or characterize the findings of the report, saying it has not yet been presented to the Department of Transportation. He did say the idea of a circulator "is all related to development," and that it might be premature, a least this year, to put in a state funding bill.
"It would be hard to get something like that going" in this legislative session," he said. "It's going to take time — a circulator or any other project."
Marks, a Republican, said he is seeking full or partial funding from the state for a Towson circulator. "I think the state would really prefer to have a county match," in funding, he added. "I'm hoping that County Executive Kamenetz will be a partner in helping to get it done. Hopefully, he's keeping an open mind."
Marks, who was chief of staff for the Maryland Department of Transportation under former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., said he does not necessarily disagree with Kamenetz's take on the need for a circulator at the present time, but that his own vision for improving mass transit in the Towson area includes a circulator as well as road resurfacing projects and more bicycle lanes.
"If the circulator is not part of the solution, then what is the plan?"
For Kamenetz, the plan involves jurisdictions together developing a regional strategy for mass transit to relieve gridlock on the Baltimore Beltway and Interstate 95. Kamenetz, who chairs the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, said he believes that mass transit shouldn't just be for Baltimore City. "We are all in this together as a region," he said.
Marks agreed that Towson is not built out, but said that with housing and mixed-use developments in the works, "it certainly will be by 2018," when the pilot circulator program would begin.