UB students will miss out unless train project stays on track
A quick, new East-West passenger train option for UB students hangs in the balance as Governor Hogan agonizes whether to approve construction of the Red Line, originally set to start this year. The proposed line will run 14 miles from Woodlawn to Greektown with 19 stops including student hot spots like Canton, Harbor East, downtown and Fells Point.
Faster than a car during rush hour, when many students are travelling to class, the Red Line will connect many Baltimore neighborhoods with the MARC train, the Metro subway and the light rail, all of which stop near UB.
On deciding the fate of the project, the newly elected governor faces a dilemma.
On the one hand, Hogan ran his election campaign emphasizing highways over public transit.
“My priority is building roads,” Hogan said, as reported in the Washington Post.
On the other hand, Hogan risks his business-friendly reputation by cancelling the project. The Red Line is heavily supported by the business community.
Baltimore Business Community wants the Red Line
In a demonstration of support, 69 of Baltimore’s most significant business lobbied Hogan, urging him to build the Red Line, by running a full page ad in the Baltimore Sun and other local papers. The Red Line, they insisted, is business-friendly.
“Many people have called the Red Line the ‘Jobs Line,’” said Maryland’s former transportation secretary James T. Smith in the Baltimore Sun on Jan. 20, 2014, “and I agree with them.”
The line, running East-West across Baltimore, will connect residents to 184,000 jobs, Don Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee in a Central Maryland Transportation Alliance newsletter, said.
Will the Red Line impact UB students?
The Red Line will stop in ten different zip codes, where as many as 1460 UB students live, which is 22 percent of the entire UB student body. (Fall 2014 data provided by UB Admission and the Office of Admissions Technology)
|Red Line Stop||Zip Code of Stop||# of UB Students Living in Zip Code|
|Security Square Mall|
|Social Security||21235||Federal Facility|
|I-70 Park and Ride||21229||125|
|West Baltimore MARC – transfer to MARC train||21216||74|
|Howard St./University Center – transfer to light rail|
|Charles Center – transfer to Metro subway|
|Inner Harbor – transfer to Circulator and MTA buses|
|Inner Harbor East||21202||191|
|Bayview MARC – transfer to MARC train|
Approx. travel time from Red Line transfer pt. to UB – 9 to 13 min.
Speed and Frequency
The Red Line would be a welcome relief to some who would otherwise have to drive or take the bus.
Bus and car traffic speeds range from six to twelve miles an hour on downtown streets during rush hour, said a Maryland Department of Transportation Report.
Almost twice as fast, and sometimes faster, The Red Line will average 23 miles per hour downtown, because it will run underground, bypassing traffic lights, said transit advocacy group Red Line Now.
The Red Line will run every 10 minutes during peak times, said Keisha Trent, Community Liaison for the MTA Red Line Program Management Team.
If students time the trains, they can combine the Red Line and MARC for a convenient trip to campus by transferring at either the West Baltimore or Bayview Stations. The MARC train currently runs every 45 minutes with a super convenient stop next to UB at Penn Station.
UB students are excited about the Red Line.
“The more public transportation the better,” UB student Leticia Enos said, a Corporate Communications major, who can’t afford a car.
“I don’t have money for car payments,” UB student Rae Roberson said, who is majoring in Government and Public Policy. “Mostly I walk.”
Even for those students who own a car, it often pays to leave it home.
Student Pamela Dennis, who is working on a post master’s certificate in psychology at UB, owns a car but thinks it’s more economical to use public transit.
Park-and-ride facilities will be an option if the Red Line is built. Plans include five park-and-ride locations. 2900 total spaces are expected, according to Maryland Department of Transportation documents.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts program has committed $900 million toward the Red Line, said former Transportation Secretary Smith in the Baltimore Sun. The funding is time sensitive and cannot be used for any other project. Maryland would lose these federal funds outright if the Red Line is canceled.
September is the deadline to sign the funding agreement, according to Red Line Now.
Roads apparently still a priority for Hogan; he recently proposed using up to $400 million from Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund to repair county streets. Additionally, Hogan proposed reversing legislation that included a modest inflation-adjusted gas tax increase.
According to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, rolling back this transportation funding source that would be the “death knell” for the Red Line (and other transportation projects), as reported by the Baltimore Sun.
Congressional leaders have worked hard to bring federal money for the Red Line and don’t want to see the project fall apart right before construction.
“You don’t have the right to remain silent,” U.S. representative Elijah Cummings said to citizens at an advocacy meeting held downtown to support the Red Line, on Jan. 7, reported Kevin Rector in the Baltimore Sun.
If Red Line funding is approved, construction can start in 2016 with an expected completion date in 2022 and UB students will have a much quicker affordable route to school and across Baltimore.
Photo Credit: Copenhagenize.com