A recent letter writer noted that there are lots of empty light rail trains (”Red Line makes no financial sense for Baltimore,” Aug. 13). There are two good reasons for that. First, there is a worldwide pandemic. I’m the biggest fan and rider of public transit for the last 30 years and at last qualify for a very economical $21 monthly pass due to my tremendous age. And yet, you couldn’t get me on one of those things after March 9, 2020.
By the time I felt safe and fully vaccinated to ride subways and light rail trains in May, the Maryland Transit Administration distinguished itself by single-tracking the light rail from Falls Road to Camden Yards for track repairs – the second reason. I am not sure any trains are running since then or when they do. Attempts to get a straight answer from the MTA and even my elected officials on this question were a complete failure so I’ve simply resorted to riding the subway since mid-May.
Although I was never impressed with the commitment of the administrations of either Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. or Gov. Martin O’Malley to improving light rail, Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has made things undeniably worse. Trains don’t run on time and their doors do not open when they do. Contacting the MTA hotline for a missing train normally results in the wrong information. I think they must get a bonus for telling people trains are arriving when they are not. Neither the loudspeakers nor signs at the light rail stations post reliable information. Or sometimes no information at all.
In May when trains closed for maintenance, the signs said nothing about trains not running so people were left stranded at the Center Street station with no way home. I was one of them and it wasn’t the first time.
The years when Parris Glendening served as governor (1995-2003) was the last time Maryland had a leader who supported and expanded light rail. The Sun reported that light rail ridership increased by 35% in the spring of 2001. In the parlance of “Field of Dreams,” if you build it — as in build more light rail extensions — the riders will come.
Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore
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