Doubling Down on Snail Rail

Unfortunately, Maryland has chosen light rail for the East-West line in Baltimore and that is a grave mistake. Fast bus service would have been a long-term mistake as well. Why?

Consider the Baltimore Metro mass transit transportation systems. The choices are buses, light rail, and the subway. We have a track record for all three and the record is clear.

The single light North-South rail line, by any measure, has not been a success. The poor ridership numbers have dropped severely since the pandemic and those numbers have not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. It’s very slow surface transportation that causes as many traffic problems as it solves. The one light rail that exists should be a cautionary tale about the risks of building another line of slow surface trains that fewer and fewer people are using.

Forget logic and reason, neither have a thing to do with building another slow scary rail line. Although Hogan is still criticized for killing the East-West line, he understands the mistake of building another light rail line. It has been resurrected under the administration of Governor Moore. I want the best for the east-west riders and light rail is not a commuter’s train because it takes forever. Anyone who truly believes this east-west rail line will raise all boats and provide an economic boost is misguided. Look at the economic boost of the North-South rail line and the ridership problems. It’s quaint and slow and not an economic engine. Where are the economic impact studies from the North-South line? Where is the proof that this line takes people out of their cars or off the buses?

The folks on the East-West line should not settle for a rail system that has proven to be a mistake. It’s called Snail Rail(and Fright Rail) and it is dearly loved by anyone who has no urgent desire to go anywhere quickly. Have you taken the Light Rail from Hunt Valley to Camden Yards for an Orioles game? It takes forever so people don’t use it. Why would the state commit to a project knowing full well that the one light rail line we do have struggles to reach 10,000 riders a day? It makes no sense.

Consider the subway line to Owings Mills and the continuing economic bonanza to Carroll County created by the opening of that line. Why? Because the subway is fast, non-surface transportation. It gets you downtown in 20 minutes. It’s more expensive but worth the extra money. Why were the folks on the I-795 corridor blessed and the folks everywhere else have to settle for busses or light rail? The subway is an economic dynamo that has positive long-term effects for the entire metro area. The long-term goal should be to tie the Baltimore and Washington subways(for a real economic powerhouse)together but the state of Maryland has given up on the subway in Baltimore.

Light rail is a proven loser that the state has just doubled down on. It is going to take an hour to go from Security Blvd to Johns Hopkins Hospital and like the current line rail, few people will ride it because it is too slow and scary. People on the East and West side deserve the same mass transit service as those fortunate residents serviced by the subway.

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