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Commuters should take buses if rail strike hits at midnight


If the nationwide rail strike comes to full bloom at midnight and shuts down the one line operating through Maryland, Gov. William Donald Schaefer advises commuters in the state to take the bus.

In fact, Mr. Schaefer and transportation officials say the state has about 50 buses ready to roll early tomorrow morning and is looking for more to handle about 8,000 travelers who commute, mostly to Washington, to work.

Some 9,000 round-trip passengers normally ride the state's MARC rail system. But in light of the strike, officials also are encouraging use of private vehicles and car pooling.

Ronald J. Hartman, Mass Transit Administration administrator, said today that contingency plans call for limited bus service from various stations along the three rail lines -- Penn, Camden and Brunswick. Thoses buses will operate only during morning and evening rush hours.

"During the day, we're looking at adding a few more stations where people can catch a bus and we're working on lining up additional buses," Mr. Hartman said.

"Of course, we're also encouraging those daily commuters to drive their personal vehicles or make a car pool arrangement," he said.

From MTA plans, this is how commuters can get to work tomorrow if the Penn Line is shut down:

* Passengers will be bused from Penn Line stops north of Baltimore to Camden Station.

*Oriole Park would be used as a park-and-ride lot with buses taking passengers from there to the Washington Metro's New Carrollton station, beginning at 5:30 a.m.

* Southbound riders at the Odenton and Savage stations could take buses to the New Carrollton Metro stop, beginning at 5:30 a.m.

* Buses would serve Brunswick on the Brunswick Line -- first bus at 5:30 a.m. -- and take riders to the Shady Grove Metro stop. The Point of Rocks station was added today as a shuttle stop.

Buses may be sent to Jessup and near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Mr. Hartman said.

* Return bus service will begin at 5 p.m., except from the New Carrollton station to Camden Station, which will start at 4 p.m.

Buses will charge the same fares as MARC. All MARC tickets and passes will be honored on strike days, refunded or credited.

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