A major overhaul of Baltimore's bus lines running south of the city was announced this week by the Mass Transit Administration.
State officials said the expansion of Baltimore's light rail system into Anne Arundel County has necessitated the changes. Three bus routes would be eliminated, seven others modified and five routes created.
The overhaul generally redirects bus routes that parallel the Central Light Rail Line, which currently runs from Timonium to Linthicum and is scheduled to expand three miles farther south to Ferndale and Glen Burnie in July.
The bus routes would eventually feed into the light rail system under the MTA plan. No community currently served by a bus will lose transit service. In some cases, the proposal expands bus service into parts of Anne Arundel County not previously served, said John A. Agro Jr., the agency's acting administrator.
"We hope we've analyzed our ridership situation intelligently," Mr. Agro said. "We hope we can have a better tie-in with light rail where we have capacity available at no extra cost to operate."
The changes are scheduled to be discussed at four public hearings next week. If adopted by the MTA, most of the adjustments would go into effect Aug. 30, although some new routes through Cherry Hill would take effect June 14.
The proposal is a sharp contrast to the MTA's last round of bus schedule adjustments. In January, the MTA tinkered with more than half of 62 bus routes, reducing service on more than a dozen.
Those cutbacks were accompanied by a a 15-cent increase in the base fare. Both moves were necessitated by declining ridership, increasing costs, and a state law that requires the MTA to recover half its operating budget from fares.
Ridership has since stabilized and the agency will meet its revenue targets for the fiscal year that ends next month, Mr. Agro said.
He acknowledged that some of the route changes are likely to irk regular bus riders. For instance, the elimination of three express bus routes -- No. 220, No. 230, and No. 240 -- means passengers will have to transfer to light rail and will face a longer commute in most cases.
On the other hand, those same travelers will pay less. Instead of a $2.15 one-way fare on the No. 230, for instance, commuters would pay a total one-way fare of $1.35. But they would have to take the new No. 12 from Parkway Center and transfer to light rail at the Linthicum station, adding an average of five to six minutes to the ride.
"We want to make the light rail line as effective as possible," said Harvey Zelefsky, the MTA's manager of service planning. "Where a bus got the job done in the past, people may now have to transfer from bus to rail."
MTA officials denied a suggestion that the route changes were made solely to boost light rail ridership. The one-year-old system has so far attracted less than a quarter of the daily passengers it is supposed to eventually carry, but officials insist light rail patronage is on track.
"The adjustments we're making are consistent with the original plan for light rail," Mr. Agro said.
PLANNED MTA BUS ROUTE CHANGES
The Mass Transit Administration will have hearings on its proposed bus route changes. In Baltimore, hearings will take place from noon to 1 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at the MTA offices at 300 W. Lexington St. In Glen Burnie, hearings will take place from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Robert Pascal Senior Center at 125 Dorsey Road and from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the MVA at One Orchard Road. These changes begin Aug. 30 unless otherwise indicated:
No. 12 New feeder bus would replace portions of the No. 230, running from North Linthicum light rail station and Westinghouse with selected trips to Parkway Industrial Center and Commons Corporate Center.
No. 14 Service between Patapsco Avenue light rail station and Annapolis would stop at new Cromwell Station light rail stop with a branch to Bay Meadow Industrial Park in Glen Burnie.
No. 16x New peak express feeder bus would replace portions of No. 240 , running weekdays only. Line would shuttle between North Linthicum light rail stop and National Security Agency/Fort Meade by way of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway .
No. 17 Service between Patapsco Avenue light rail stop and Lake Shore Plaza would include Cromwell Station light rail stop , the Airport Square area and Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
No. 18 New feeder bus would run weekdays only from Cromwell Station light rail stop and Old Mill. Would serve Elvaton Road , North Arundel Hospital and Harundale Mall .
No. 28 Existing line would be cut into three. No. 28 would run weekdays and Saturdays between Mondawmin and Camden Yards with selected trips to Cherry Hill . The other two lines are the No. 29 and the No. 30 . Begins June 14 .
No. 29 New feeder bus replacing a portion of the No. 28 would run weekdays and Saturdays between Cherry Hill light rail stop and Patapsco Avenue light rail stop. Begins June 14 .
No. 30 New feeder bus replacing the Baltimore Highlands branch of the No. 28 would operate weekdays and Saturdays between Cherry Hill and Baltimore Highlands light rail stoprs. Begins June 14 .
No. 63 Bus would run weekdays only between Riviera Beach and North Linthicum light rail stop with selected trips on Belle Grove Road to Patapsco Avenue light rail station.
No. 64 Service would continue between downtown Baltimore and Wagners Point but selected trips to Linthicum and Davison Chemical would end.
No. 210 Three trips in the morning and three in the evening would be eliminated.
No. 220 Express bus route from Mountain Road park-and-ride would be eliminated.
No. 230 Express bus route from Parkway Center / Westinghouse to downtown Baltimore would be eliminated.
No. 240 Express bus route from Pioneer City / Fort Meade would be eliminated.
Nixon Shuttle Privately operated service between Pioneer City and Cromwell Station light rail stop. Begins in July .