A recent letter compared the proposed Red Line to Baltimore's existing light rail and suggested that planners should abandon the Red Line's downtown tunnel ("Pricey Red Line fails to live up to expectations," Aug. 29). Experience with the existing light rail's surface route through downtown shows that this would be a mistake.
The Red Line's tunnel and use of the U.S. 40 median will allow it to move passengers between Canton and West Baltimore MARC in less than 15 minutes, less than five minutes between Howard Street and Fells Point. It vastly outperforms the existing light rail because unlike surface rail, traffic and weather won't adversely affect travel times.
Years of experience with the existing light rail has taught us that surface rail through downtown is cumbersome and slow. This deters ridership and hurts the quality of connections with the rest of the transit network. It limits capacity because running frequent trains is more difficult.
By contrast, the Red Line is designed to handle almost 50,000 daily riders by 2035 — twice the ridership of the current light rail. More frequent trains are possible, allowing for even greater ridership.
Additionally, the Red Line will connect with every transit mode Baltimore has to offer, including the MARC train, metro subway, light rail, bus and circulator, water taxi and bike infrastructure. Unlike the light rail, the Red Line is fastest where connections and development are most dense.
The Red Line's planners have worked diligently to link neighborhoods, institutions and amenities with our region's transportation network. The result is a truly world-class line and the beginning of a comprehensive transit system. Baltimore should not settle for less.
Ben Groff, Baltimore
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