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Taxpayer subsidies for MTA routes

The Maryland Transit Administration's No. 64 bus starts at North Avenue, rolls through downtown and South Baltimore and down to Curtis Bay.

For most of that stretch, it carries an average of more than 5,000 riders each weekday with a relatively modest taxpayer subsidy of $1.71 per boarding, according to an MTA survey conducted as part of its proposed bus route restructuring.

But the 64 continues all the way to Riviera Beach, at the tip of a peninsula in Anne Arundel County. For that final stretch, carrying an average of 10 riders daily, the subsidy works out to $40.31 each, according to the survey.

Riviera Beach is one of dozens of places to which the MTA is proposing to eliminate service as part of its most comprehensive route restructuring in three decades.

Other examples from the MTA survey:

• On the No. 4 route along Rossville Boulevard in eastern Baltimore County, a turnoff into an industrial park known to the MTA as the "Yellow Brick Road deviation" serves an average of 11 riders daily. The agency, which puts the cost of that loop at $5.28 per boarding, proposes to cut it.

• On the No. 10 route, 36 of the route's average of 7,084 daily passengers rode between North Point Boulevard and Sparrows Point at a taxpayer cost of $34.36. Of those 36, an average of five rode at night at a taxpayer cost of $103.05 each.

• The No. 17 route, which the MTA wants to cut to a night-only run to , winds through the industrial parks of Anne Arundel County on one of the MTA's longest routes. On its southernmost leg, beyond BWI, it requires a subsidy of $14.34 per rider ($109.09 for each of the four riders on the average morning return trip).

• The No. 65 bus makes 21 bone-rattling trips a day out of the Patapsco light rail station on the bumpy roads to Fairfield and Wagners Point. It carries an average of 72 riders per day. The 20 who continued on the leg serving Wagners Point required an average subsidy of $19.83.

• The No. 86 bus, from the Social Security Administration to Goucher Boulevard and Taylor Avenue, carries 40 passengers a day at a cost of $6.08 each.

• The Hampden Shuttle (No. 98) is one of the more controversial proposed cuts. The MTA figures show 341 riders a day at a cost of $4.39 each.

• Express bus services to downtown are among the most heavily subsidized. The No. 102, which carried an average of 35 riders at a cost of $12.76 each, and the No. 105, with 19 riders and a subsidy of $12.95 each, are among those proposed for elimination.

• The No. 150 express route to Ellicott City carries an average of 143 riders a day on six round trips and recovers less than 10 percent of its cost. The subsidy per rider is $8.71.

-- Michael Dresser

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