Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Editorial: Help give Carroll transit more direction

Let's face it, to get around Carroll County, you really need a car or a truck. The physical makeup of the county — rolling farmland, punctuated by the occasional town or village — makes it difficult to do it any other way. Because of this situation, the use of public transportation for the average citizen is rare at best and most likely nonexistent for the clear majority.

It's a common issue in suburban counties and Carroll is no exception. Finances are often the reason, as the expense to operate an efficient system is often more than the jurisdiction can afford. And with relatively little demand — mixed with these costs and a general belief that public transportation is something more appropriate for a big city — the availability of buses is not usually a high priority.


But regardless of whether you use public transportation, many rely on it — they need it to get to work, school, medical appointments or even the store. Without the opportunity to catch a bus, they might not be able to do the basic things that most of us take for granted.

So we're pleased that Carroll County government is taking an interest in making public transportation better here. The latest evidence of that will come Sept. 25 when the recently formed Carroll Transit Advisory Council will hold a transit summit at Carroll Community College's K Building. It runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and those interested in attending are required to reserve a spot by Sept. 18.


At this hearing, members of the council will give updates on the current transit system and discuss the future of the system, including the potential expansion of routes and the shuttle's impact on local businesses. County Commissioner Doug Howard, who was director of Carroll Area Transit Systems from 2007 to 2010, wants to give those interested in using the system an overview of what's available. Just as important, he wants to give those with other ideas a chance to make suggestions. "So anyone who thinks their organization, relatives or their own transportation needs can benefit from this, it's going to be a really good flow of information," Howard told us earlier this week.

Howard is correct when he says that public transit is important to developing the business climate, and we can certainly see it being helpful in some parts of the county more than others.

We hope that this topic gets the focus it deserves during the summit. The only way to gauge this interest will be for business groups and larger employers to attend. We encourage them to do so.

Also, one item that we often hear about: concerns of whether public transportation should go beyond Carroll's borders. In a large scale, we think mass transit would be inappropriate for the county, simply because we don't see the demand. But we do wonder whether a connection to neighboring counties would have any benefit to anyone. What if, for example, the Carroll bus system and the Howard County bus system shared a stop somewhere along the border of the counties, maybe in Sykesville. We don't know if there is any interest, but we'd encourage the advisory council to ask the question, if only to put the issue to rest.

The summit has the potential to shape the future of Carroll transit needs for the near and extended future. Those interested should make sure they attend, both to support good transit ideas and to make sure that the county avoids ones that aren't needed.