Ravens parade crowds overwhelm light rail, jam traffic

The Maryland Transit Administration is experiencing "massive delays" on local bus lines and the light rail system, a result of thousands of football fans attending the Baltimore Ravens parade and breaking through barricades controlling their routes through the city.

"We put every available resource we had out on the system today, and the crowds were simply larger than the system could accommodate in the short time frame in which people were attempting to ride," said Terry Owens, a MTA spokesman.

Traffic in and out of Baltimore was severely impacted Tuesday afternoon as thousands of football fans poured out of M&T Bank Stadium downtown and began making their way home following the parade — which left clean up crews with their hands full trying to clear closed streets in the hours prior to the evening commute. As of 3:30 p.m., downtown traffic was completely jammed.

Unlike other major events in the downtown area in recent years, the parade took place on a day when many commuters still had to get to work, making it more difficult for the city's transportation system to handle the crowds, Owens said.

Estimates for when the transit system would return to schedule were not available, Owens said. A disabled vehicle along Interstate 95 South near the Fort McHenry Tunnel also slowed traffic in Baltimore.

Many downtown roads were jammed with cars and light rail stations overwhelmed with people trying to board trains. Commuters demanded refunds for tickets they had purchased after they were unable to board trains, Owens said. He said the MTA's customer service department will provide refunds to those who submit valid claims.

"We saw huge crowds across the system, and as you might expect, those crowds caused widespread delays and diversions," Owens said. "We anticipated both delays and diversions, tried to advise customers of as much in advance, but with something like this it's hard to plan for because you dont know what to anticipate."

Owens said he did not know how long the average delay across the system was at about 2:30 p.m., but said every MTA resource had been deployed and crews were trying to steer a massive stadium crowd toward their desired destinations.

"We've got extra personnel down there trying to get people onto trains and away from the stadium," he said, noting some people were parade attendees and others were just regular commuters. "We sincerely regret the inconvenience experienced."

Certain lines were delayed in part because so many people had broken through barricades along the parade route and stormed onto Pratt Street and other roadways where the light rail runs. A minor accident downtown and a pregnant woman on a light rail needing medical attention further slowed the system down, Owens said.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department also released a statement, asking residents to be aware of an expected increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic throughout portions of Anne Arundel County, specifically in and around the North Linthicum light rail station located at 450 N. Camp Meade Road in Linthicum Heights, the Cromwell light rail station located at 7378 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard in Glen Burnie, and Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The statement also said, affected roads included I-97, I-695, Ritchie Highway (Route 2), Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard (Route 648) and Camp Meade Road (Maryland Route 170).

Other than the large crowd size, Owens said he could not speculate as to why such widespread problems occurred. He said he did not think they were more significant than during other large events downtown.

Still, transportation officials will review what occurred to slow down the system.

"We'll have to do some debriefing and try to figure out what worked, what didn't work," he said.

Those seeking a refund on a purchased but unused light rail ticket should mail their claim, the ticket and the date when the ticket was unable to be used to MTA Customer Service, 3rd Floor, 6 St. Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21202.



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