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MARC to increase weekend capacity, citing rising Baltimore-Washington ridership

The Maryland Transit Administration will increase capacity on weekend MARC trains between Baltimore and Washington beginning Saturday, citing growing ridership on the months-old service.

The Penn Line service saw its most weekend riders to date this past weekend, on March 8 and 9, when 6,530 passengers traveled between Baltimore and its neighbor to the south, said Paulette Austrich, a MTA spokeswoman.

The MTA first began weekend MARC service between Baltimore's Penn Station and Washington's Union Station on the first Saturday of December, offering nine three-car trains on Saturdays and six three-car trains on Sundays.

Starting Saturday, trains with four and five cars will be put into weekend circulation, Austrich said. Three-car trains have a 389-person capacity, four-car trains have a 521-person capacity, and five-car trains have a 653-person capacity, she said.

The record number of riders who used MARC this weekend continues steady growth on the service since its inception.

In December, a total of 18,126 passengers used MARC's weekend service on the Penn Line. In January, there were 20,249 passengers, and in February there were 23,011, Austrich said.

On March 1 and 2, there were 4,981 passengers.

Low estimates for weekend ridership had long been a factor in MTA's decision not to offer weekend services, and despite the increases, Saturday and Sunday ridership still pales in comparison to weekday use.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 passengers ride the Penn Line on an average weekday.

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