This page is a mixture of "the truth" and my own personal opinion.
If you're tired of reading opinions on and of the Red Line, please leave now :-)
Baltimore's proposed Red Line light rail system was controversial from the very start. It
was proposed to go thru Canton when many there felt it wasn't needed. It was proposed to go
through downtown Baltimore in another tunnel, like the Metro Subway system, starting
in Canton, and facing the same challenges that the Metro did when it extended the line from
Charles Street to Hopkins.
No-one who knows me can deny that I am a big fan and supporter of Mass Transit, but there are
some ideas and plans that we should just let go of.... this is one of them. And yes,
whenever I can, I do ride Mass Transit, even busses! :-)
One reason I have a problem with the system is: What many people (read: supporters) of
the system forget, is that to attract more than just the "poor",
the system has to be integrated into the rest of the areas transit systems
so that it makes it easy for everyone to get around. One of the biggest
problems with the rail transit in Baltimore is that other than Penn and Camden
stations (with connections to regional and commuter rail), there is no connection
between the light rail and the metro system. Why is that? Why
did AND how could the MTA design a system like that? That one decision alone has
prevented the two systems from attracting more riders, especially from
the suburbs. I'm all for "helping the poor, and the
"disadvantaged", but what does this system really do for these
people - THAT BUSSES DON'T (or can't) ALREADY DO? Do we really need to spend 3 billion
dollars (plus), just so
the poor can brag about getting to work on a flashy new system?
The money would be better spent trying to directly help those people!
For what it will cost to build the Red Line, you could buy a car for almost
everyone using the Red Line, that doesn't have access to one. They
than become masters of their time, instead of being subservient to the MTA
for getting them to wherever they are going. Yes, this defeats the
purpose of mass transit, but there are times when it is nice to have an
alternative - see below.
For all of the money that is being planned on "us" spending to put this
system in, let's not forget some of the negative aspects of rail systems in general:
1) - Let's say you have an accident on the line - the whole line all of a
sudden comes to a grinding halt because we now need to investigate and clean
up the scene of the
accident. Witness the accident on the Light Rail system on Monday, May
8th, 2023 in Timonium where some jerk is walking on the tracks, and the
train runs into him and kills him. I'm not going to try to understand
why the operator couldn't stop in time, or why the guy didn't hear the
train, all I know is that the line was shut down for hours, inconveniencing
thousands of riders who are trying to get to work because the happened at
something like 6 in the morning. When the trains stop running, there
is NO WAY to get around the affected area. Same goes for a tree
falling down on the wires. Same goes for a power outage in the area
that affects more than 2 substations. Busses can quickly adapt and be
re-routed in times like these. You don't have these kinds of problems with
busses because they can go "around" the affected area using an alternate
2) - Someone needs to pay for building AND the ongoing maintenance of the
system. Someone. That means you and me, regardless of whether or
not you ride it - maybe it doesn't go where you need to go, or maybe there
is a safety concern, and giving the recent uptick in gun violence in the
city, how can you blame anyone for not wanting to take public transit.
On top of that, if you are a fan of having more 95's on the trains (MTA
parlance for the police), what is that going to cost? Conservatively
speaking, that would be in the neighborhood of a million bucks a year for 10 cops!
When they originally built the first part of the system, I think I remember
it costing around $1.5 million a mile to build. That figure has now
jumped to something like 15 to 20 million a mile, given the costs of
building the latest additions or new systems. Why has it become more
expensive? And that is just for starters, most contracts allow for
additional charges if the contractors run into unseen situations. This
is why the King of Prussia extension of the NHSL (Norristown High Speed
Line) in Philadelphia was cancelled - the FEDS said that costs were
spiraling out of control! Again, for some reason, when the Brits or
French build a system, it doesn't cost as much as it does here, and one has
to wonder why??? But we still keep building despite spiraling and out
of control costs.
3) - The maintenance aspect of a rail system is huge, and not to be under
estimated. What do you think the Light Rail yard and maintenance
facility at North Avenue costs every year to keep open and run? I have
no clue, but we could make a few guesses - let's pull a number out of the
air and say it costs the MTA 50 mil a year to keep North Avenue open every
year.... How about all of those
crossing gate arms that people run thru and then need replacing. How
about that TVM (ticket vending machine) that isn't spitting out tickets, so
now there's a huge long line for tickets, and you're running late for work,
ooooops, screwed again! How about a switch that is stuck from either
snow in it because the heater stopped working, or a motor failed (very rare,
but it can happen), the line gets backed up again, and hardly anything
moves, if at all. Busses don't have these problems, and if their
farebox goes bad, a "new" bus is soon to arrive. Add to this, you need
a locomotive to pull a dead train, you need a tamper to regularly go out and
keep the track in good condition, you need to have a company come in and
grind the rail every few years-busses don't need this, in the shop you have
this expensive piece of special machinery from Germany to keep the wheels
"true" and round-buses don't need this kind of machine.... And then there is
winter, where EVERY switch has a heater on it to prevent it from freezing
up, and even when they work on the line, for 3 weeks, and nothing ran, like
they recently did in Timonium (MAR 2023) to replace the Timonium Business
Park Rd grade crossing, they didn't turn off the heaters (there are blue
lights that come on when the heaters are ON)-busses don't need heaters, the
city and county keep the streets clear. 30 years ago when I worked at
Light Rail, it cost $1200 for a matched pair of semiconductors for the
modules that make the train move, and there are 6 pairs of them in the 2
propulsion modules-busses have reliable engines that can last 100's of
thousands of miles before they need to be rebuilt, and the parts are easy to
source, those semiconductors - not so much!!!
4) - Keeping the fleet current. When a bus gets old, they scrap it, or
they rebuild the engine and transmission if the frame hasn't logged too many
hours. With the LRV's (Light Rail Vehicles), you don't wanna throw
away something that cost you millions (about $2 million in 1990) to buy. So instead, they spend
another million or so, per car, to update the things. I hear,
operationally, the updated LRV's have so many more glitches and safety
"lock-out's" running in the software, that it's a wonder the dam things move
at all. I have not heard of this happening with any of the bus fleets.
5) - Planners of the Light Rail system back in the 1980's told us that it
was going to be a Renaissance for the Howard Street corridor. Thirty
years later, we are still waiting for that Renaissance to come.
6) - Stations for a rail project are fixed. They cannot be moved to
compensate for things like new buildings (the buildings have to be built
around the stations), changing demographics, dictating the relocation of a
station, and whole host of other reasons.
I know the U.S. is in the middle of a rail renaissance, but not every system
is needed or will produce the desired results the planners think it will
bring. Northern Virginia decided
(in June 2015) against spending the money on a light rail system, because enough
people had the sense to realize the cost was just not worth the end
result. Hooray for them!
Before I get "into it" in more detail, let's go over a few things to back up
why I say the things I say. These things don't just appear, you have
to go searching for them. The things you find may not support YOUR desired
result or ambition. Sometimes we need to know when to say STOP, or
pull-the-plug. Not every transit idea is a good idea, altho on the
surface, they may sound good. Two major issues any transit company has
to deal with is farebox recovery, and the affordability of the fare
structure so people can ride it. Here are a couple of things I came
across, the definitions are pretty much standard, and the Guardian article
can be torn apart, maybe, but it still provides another point of view which
transit advocates will not agree with, BECAUSE it doesn't support their end
game, which is to have a rail line put in. If you read the Guardian
article, the poor blokes in London spend even more of their hard earned
money to ride the Underground. Maryland, overall, seems to be towards the
bottom rungs of farebox recovery, I think that number is from 2019?
23% is not a good number, you might as well make it free at that point,
besides, it's another thing we can let the casino money pay for, like
education (and don't get me started on that one.....).
Another way to look at this is, and if there is one point I make to
discourage the construction of a new system, this is perhaps the most
important one: For every dollar it costs to operate (say)
the light rail system, tickets pay for 23% of the costs, so that means you
and I are paying 77 cents towards to keep it running - everyone, rich or
poor. And that is why it hurts the poor more than it does the rich or
the middle class. If we build yet another rail system which costs way
more to build AND maintain, "our" share will increase, as the farebox
recovery rate will go down. Mr. Leroy has failed to incorporate this
fact into his argument that a new light rail system is beneficial to "the
poor". Mr. Leroy will also squawk at this comparison, but if
buying things cheap wasn't a priority for most Americans, then why has
Walmart flourished? So again, I will ask the obvious question, why do
we want to spend MORE money for something when "it" can be purchased for way
less by putting in a bus system? Yeah, I don't know either.... But the
light rail advocates are trying to throw us down that rabbit hole :-(
One more comment about farebox recovery for the rail advocates. The
23% number is an average. But averages also tell us that among the
three modes of transportation Maryland offers in Baltimore: Metro, light
rail, and bus, bus service has the highest farebox recovery, and Metro the
lowest. Look at what the Metro system needs to maintain in comparison
to that of the bus service, and you will immediately see that the only thing
the bus service needs to maintain are the busses, and nothing else!!!
The last screenshot pretty much boils down my whole page into one simple
question.... a new rail system is better for who? And this is where
most of the debate should happen. Reality Check: If you think that by
having a tax on companies to help pay for the system, do you really think
they are going to absorb the cost without passing on the increased cost of
business to the customer, somehow? While it sounds nice, we will ALL
be paying for the billions of dollars it costs to build a rail system, both
thru our federal taxes, our state and local taxes, and the increased cost of
goods companies will pass along to us. Someone has to pay, and it is
YOU and ME, there is no magic involved. Any money the Feds give to a
project, where do you think that money comes from? It's not the rich
and most large corporations, because we have been shown over and over and
over again that they DO NOT pay their fair share of taxes, so it falls onto
the shoulders of the average American citizen (my mini rant for the day :-).
Fare Box Recovery Rate across Maryland, all Transit Services
So here we go again, designing yet another (third) system that will
have NO commonality with either of the two existing systems.
Again, how can the MTA be so stupid in their decisions and design
choices? How are we supposed to transfer between the three
systems without getting exposed to the weather? Why don't
they design the system to use both high and low platforms, and
then use part of the Metro Subway system's tunnel? Run it
down Security Blvd instead of down the middle of the end of I-70
- putting it in the middle of the interstates might be OK in some
cities, but just like the Metro system running up I-795, it now
becomes more of a commuter rail system that is not easy to get to in Owings
Mills, not when you have to drive to get to it, much like you do when you
use a commuter rail system.
One of the Sunpaper articles below states that with the decision
to nix the Red Line, Maryland will lose $288 million from the
Feds. But has anyone considered where Maryland's portion of
the outrageous $2.9 billion in construction costs would come
from? Do we really need to pay $2.6 billion just so we can
get a measly 10% of the construction costs for free? Would
you buy a house if someone was going to give you 10% of its costs,
but you really STILL couldn't afford to buy the house? Doesn't
make sense to me either.
In a later story by Sheryll Cashin (Politico, link below), she asserts
that the cancellation of the Red Line is
keeping the city segregated and poor. What BS! First of all,
HOW??? Please explain and prove your allegation honey. The poor of
Baltimore are doing a fine job of keeping themselves poor without anyone's
help..... As I said elsewhere, providing city residents with a flashy way to
get out of the city is not going to make them any better off, or do anything
for them - other than cost THEM more in the long run, when now, the state will have to
tax the poor EVEN MORE to keep paying for the millions of dollars it just
cost to build, and then maintain the system, but hardly anyone thinks about
those costs to ALL taxpayers.
Many fail to view transit systems as a tax on the poor, those who can least
afford additional taxes!!!
For anyone reading this that has to do with the design of the system
if it ever comes to fruition, I have a few suggestions:
-- Build it the way DART built their light rail system in Dallas,
and have the light rail go UP N OVER a lot of the roads,
thereby eliminating the possibility of grade crossing accidents at
those locations! Another benefit would be you are not holding
up vehicular traffic. It would eventually pay for itself in
the form of less maintenance costs, sending operators for a drug
test every time they got into an accident, and paying off people
when there is an accident!
-- Who says the tracks have to be built to standard gauge --
4'-8 1/2"? If you're going to build a system that has
no connection to anything else, why not build it to, say, a six foot
gauge? The cars can be bigger to accommodate more people,
thereby increasing the the through-put and making a more stable
ride. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, private transit
companies were usually built to different gauges. There is
nothing saying that standard gauge has to be the norm.
Before the Civil War, the south had been building their railroads
to six foot gauge, think of what our trains today could carry if
we had used that instead of standard gauge! Think
outside the box people! There is no reason - ZERO - to
have it built to standard gauge! OK, there is one, Plasser
and the other rail maintenance companies only make their equipment
for standard gauge, if we do something non standard gauge, we
won't have any equipment to set ties or regulate our ballast :-(
Around the middle of July 2015, supporters want the Governor to
prove to them that he went over the plans FULLY in order to reach
his decision to nix the system. Have these supporters come
up with ANY alternatives on how to make the system cheaper to
build? Or is all they can do is criticize??? Anyone
can do that! Besides, he doesn't have to prove to anyone that he
read it or not!!! And I double down on these reasons as I do my 2023
update - he didn't have to prove to no-one.
Well, in 2023, with Wes Moore becoming the new governor of Maryland, he
plans on bringing back the Red Line. Dam.
In a related story, I think Hogan spending $58 mil on a Maglev study is a
complete waste of time, the money could be better spent of helping
the homeless, or building a better bus system. Who is going
to ride a line between Baltimore and Washington if it is still
easier just to drive down to DC to get where you are going?
What do we gain from a mode of transportation that saves 20 minutes
from the 30 (or less) commute between Penn Station and Union
Station? And then you are still at the mercy of another
form of transportation to get you to your final destination.
There is NO advantage other than the "WOW" factor and
the bragging rights. Again, all at the expense of the taxpayers
Will the Red Line ever get built? Maybe...... Maybe not.
But not in its current form, for the plan is just too expensive for
the potential gains we will benefit from its realization.
As of October 2016, the transit coalition is again trying to revive interest
in building the system, see the box below..... Now, in 2023, here we
Since I originally did this page, I have only had one person who took the
time to write a letter to me and criticize what I have said, his email is
below at the bottom of the page. We don't agree with each other, and
he takes issue with a lot of what I said, but that's OK! :-) I thank
him for taking the time to write.
This page will highlight some of the proposals and discussions.
At first, I wasn't going to respond to Mr. Leroy's letter, but now that there
is renewed interest with (our new) Governor Moore's announcement on Thursday,
June 15th, 2023 in the Red Line, I will.
My first comment will be to again ask: "Why?" What does building
another -separate and segmented- rail system offer Baltimore that a
dedicated bus line can't? I'm going to pretend that I haven't already
written what is above, and restate my objections. These concerns apply
to the Purple Line too, as a dedicated bus system could have been
instituted for a fraction of what the state, and "you and I", are shelling
out for something that will ultimately be used by a few.
A1) Huge initial investment. A completely new "bus system" only needs a
new "car barn" and new buses at the minimum in order to start operation.
Busways, or Bus Transitways, such as the one used in Ottawa before they
built the Confederation Light Rail line, fulfilled the requirement quite well before
they too, went to the expense of putting in a rail system. At least
with cities like Salt Lake City, the UTA's planners had the foresight to
order the same cars they use on the three light rail lines, and have a
connection at the Central Pointe station to said light rail line, so the
S-Line cars can use the maintenance facility already in existence, along
with utilizing the same parts for both system's cars. Bonus!
A2) Spiraling and out of control construction costs due to a) Insufficient insight by the
planners, b) Improperly trained or otherwise unknowledgeable planners, c)
Same for the oversight committee, d) Political "ambitions",
demands, or connections,
e) Unforeseen issues with land acquisition and geography/geology f) Improper
forecasting the effect of inflation on the project, g) Too many government
agencies involved with the construction. If anyone wants to
sit down and dispute any of my concerns, let's talk about the cluster
you-know-what down in D.C. called the
DC Streetcar. Better yet, visit my page and read about EVERYTHING that
could go wrong - did go wrong in the construction of the system.
If you're still not convinced that "shit happens", then go to my page on the
High-Speed Rail Project in California, and see how one politician who was
needed to approve the project, demand that the route be changed by 10's of
miles to service a city within his district. If you don't think it
could happen here, you are living under a rock. AND, finally, also
read on the high-speed rail project how the system NOW faces not being built
in it's entirety because of the out of control costs! But the
advocates still want to spend your tax dollars so they can feel good, about
something..... but I'm not sure what that "something" is.
Excessive costs are also what has driven the Feds to not approve SEPTA's
King-of-Prussia High Speed Line proposal - a project that had many
benefits for the region.
A3) Exorbitant operation costs to maintain the system once up and running.
This includes, but not limited to things like a) A locomotive to rescue
stranded trains, b) Tampers, ballast regulators, periodic rail grinding and
the like to maintain the track, c) Ticket vending machines requiring
extensive AND expensive maintenance including parts, supplies, labor, and
vehicles - unless you make the system free to ride, d) Expensive and routine
maintenance of the right-of-way for things like tree removal, snow removal,
brush and weed control, empty trash cans, change light bulbs, e) Crews to maintain the physical components of the
system such as crossing gates that are always being busted due to impatient
cars and their owners running thru them, or the mechanisms failing, or
someone running into a support pole for the huge variety of crap that a rail
system needs, maintenance of the power sources, maintenance of the catenary,
maintenance of the track, maintenance of the signals, and so on and so
on.... none of which a bus system requires because other (non MTA) entities are already
spending your dollars to pay for road and signal maintenance. AND, if
we bury part of the line, maintenance costs go even higher due to the nature
of maintaining tunnels and everything related to them - in effect, the costs
now rival that of an underground metro or subway system
A4) When you have an accident, a fire, a power failure, a "broken-down" train,
or anything else that STOPS the line from running and moving people: besides
inconveniencing people, they become frustrated and pissed-off, and some patrons
will decide to "not come back" to use the service.... let's say maybe because
they got fired for coming in late, or they were docked time, whatever.
The chances of this happening are less with a bus system with the above
scenario's given that busses can go around the problem area, or keep running
in the event of a power failure.
A5) A side note to the accident and fire situations above, is that those
scenarios place a burden on the bus system of the MTA, by having to provide
extra busses for a "bus bridge" when something like that happens. The
MTA just doesn't have the spare busses sitting around, waiting for things like that
to happen. Fortunately, those kinds of things happen enough that bus
operations handles them with relative ease.
A6) Another side note to 4 - During a recent light rail system repair - the
replacement of the grade crossing at Timonium Business Park road, the line
was shut down between Lutherville and Hunt Valley, FOR SIX WEEKS!
Frustrating, inconvenient, in addition to the on-off, on-off aspect.
This wouldn't happen with a bus system.
A7) Years ago, I used to travel the country a lot for business. I was
flying somewhere almost every week. For a short trip, like an
overnighter, I would drive to BWI and park there. For longer trips, my
wife would drop me off and pick me up - BWI from Towson is a half hour ride.
One time, I decided to try using the light rail to get home, an experiment
of sorts. Including wait time at BWI, travel time on the light rail
(about an hour to Lutherville), and then waiting for someone to come and get
me and take me the last few miles, it took almost two hours. In a day
and age when people are flying around on the Beltway to save what, a few
seconds of commuting time (and getting into some really bad accidents here
of late) do I really want to spend that extra time on a train when I could
be at home taking a nap? :-)
A8) A friend of mine, an avid baseball fan, used to ride the light rail
downtown for the games. He lives in Parkville. So right off the bat,
he has an extra 20-25 minute commute to (say) the Timonium or Lutherville
station. On one return trip around 10pm, the train stopped at North
Avenue, and he was told to get off the train, because he was taking the
train into the yard. Not ALL operators reset their destination signs to the
proper destination, so when the train was at the stadium, it could have said
Hunt Valley. On a second trip home, the train got somewhere north of
the North Avenue station, around 28th Street, and the train just stopped,
and it caused a delay of almost 2 hours. So now, he has given up on
using light rail and drives downtown, and pays the fifteen bucks to park,
because it saves him about an hour in each direction, and is RELIABLE!!!
My only relief in Governor Moore's announcement the other day, is that he
and his gang will be exploring alternatives to having the Red Line as a rail
project. Another one of my friends, who is also a transit advocate, suggested
putting in a trackless trolley (electric bus) system in, but it still
suffers from half the same problems as a rail system does: a fixed
infrastructure and one that relies on the power grid for operation. A
hybrid version of the bus is available which could alleviate some of those
issues, and can even come off the wire to go around accidents and fires.
So let's see what this one reader has to say, shall we.......
B1 - Disagree away :-) And get ready to agree to disagree.
B2 - First, the tunnel he is referencing is on the Metro Subway, not the
Metro Link. Secondly, just because we had issues and gained some
experience with the tunneling around the Shot Tower due to soft ground and water
seepage, it doesn't mean that mistakes STILL won't be made again, even if
we use the same company to do the tunneling. Humans are not very
good at learning from past mistakes - most of the time..... And, just
because we did make mistakes in the past, doesn't mean we can't make
mistakes again - he cannot just equivocally state and guarantee that
mistakes will be eliminated - mainly because he is not in control of any
aspect of the construction phase.
He infers that Canton originally opposed the Red Line system, and then, as
plans developed, became to liking it. This forces me to mention the
Howard Street corridor.
When Light Rail was originally planned for Baltimore, "they" said it would
revitalize the Howard Street Corridor. Well, 30+ years later, EVERYONE
is still waiting for that revitalization of Howard Street to arrive!
Fortunately, Canton DID NOT wait for the Red Line to move ahead, because
the eastern end of Boston Street around Haven St, many shopping
centers and restaurants have all come in, ALL WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF RAIL
TRANSPORTATION!!! Wish that stuff was there when we lived in H'town in
the early 90's! :-)
B3 - Refer to #B1 :-) I could argue that your reasons "for" are just
as short-sided and flawed.
B4 - The Red Line would integrate into the current MTA system poorly, for
reasons mentioned elsewhere. And connections to the Light Rail and
Metro Subway systems, are, well, at best, frustrating, and certainly not
convenient or weather friendly. Even the easy connection from MARC to
light rail at Camden exposes you to the elements. The only
semi-protected transfer is at Penn Station. But because the MTA made
train service to Penn Station part of a line, and not a shuttle, it is
vastly underused because people have to wait too long to get out of the
station to go anywhere - remember what I said about people being impatient
these days! The MTA would be better off to just put in a Penn Station
to Mt Royal shuttle, operating every 5 or 10 minutes! The one time I
did take light rail to downtown for an Amtrak trip, I just missed the
"shuttle", and had to walk the 7 blocks in order to make the train.
:-( BTW, when I have been at Penn Station for either railfanning, or
to use Amtrak, I have rarely ever seen anyone boarding or getting off the
light rail there!
Also not quite sure how the creation of BARTA really helps with much of
anything, especially with the construction of, and maintaining a new rail
system. Additionally, what are the qualifications of the people
associated with the group, are any of them long-time transit professionals
who know the ins and outs of public transportation? My guess would be
no. And if so, it remains to be seen if they can provide any sort of
relevant advice or inputs.
B5 - NONE of those transfers you mention are CONVENIENT connections when you have to walk a block or
more out in the open exposed to the elements, as I have already stated -
NONE. If anyone has ridden the New York City Subway system, or used
the light rail to heavy rail transfer in Cleveland, you know what a
convenient connection is - either the same or an adjacent platform. I tried in 1993 when we
had our version of "Quality Circles" at the Light Rail Shops, suggesting that the MTA
make a transit mall between the Metro and Light Rail Lexington Market stations (by
enclosing or otherwise sheltering the street), but
they turned down the idea - so how many people coming down from Owings Mills
want to walk or run that block in the rain, or wade thru six inches of snow
in the winter (besides more waiting in the cold)? It's neither a
practical or convenient method of transfering, most will take their car. The only
thing that has saved the Metro Subway system from being almost completely
useless is the extension to Hopkins.
B6 - For the most part, see #B1 again :-).
B7 - Several trains (LOL) of thought in this one to address..... We're creating
10,000 temporary jobs, not permanent, and the jobs will change as the
project advances. I do not know anyone here in the burbs that uses
light rail and brags about using it, they do it only because it is
convenient or saves them from (for instance) parking downtown - HOWEVER, if
they don't work adjacent to a station, most people here in the burbs are not
going to consider taking light rail because of how long it takes to get
anywhere once off the rail system. Not sure how the Red Line is going to help the "I-70
hi-way to no-where?" Unless the Red Line comes up from the downtown area on
the Light Rail system (or Metro Subway if they are really planning an
underground solution) already in place, and then heads west on Franklin St -
because the orphaned I-70 is 6-7-8 blocks away from Pratt and Lombard
Streets. I believe the current proposal is to go underground around
the West Baltimore MARC station, and make a diagonal for the Pratt and
Howard Street area, which bypasses the "hi-way to no-where' completely and
doesn't benefit it or otherwise fix or change anything.
B8 - Did anyone else fail to link/associate the cancellation of the NOVA
light rail system back in 2015 with the actions of Governor Hogan?
Phew, there is a reach of monumental proportions.... Hello, Hogan is in
Maryland, not Virginia. Hogan DID NOT Have anything to do with the
NOVA line! Hello? One article about the cancellation is
Then there is the political aspect of public projects which had a part in
the line's cancellation, which I also mentioned up in A2.
B9 - I think we get that :-) But in regards to transit equality,
let's figure out how we can help with the misnamed "food deserts" of
Baltimore City, where people don't have easy access to a grocery store.
These areas are more of a situation where many of the poor can't just hop in
car and drive to the nearest market, which even for me, in the burbs, is at
least a mile away, or closer to two if I don't use Grauls. So while
the majority of people in the city live perhaps closer to a grocery store
than I do, they can't get there easily - but then, I remember my
grandparents walking a mile or more to a grocery store in NYC with a
shopping basket, ALL YEAR LONG, rain/shine, hot/cold, etc. If you and
your panel want to solve a problem, work on this one instead, it will have
more life changing results than wasting your time on advocating a rail line
we don't need because we already have a transportation system in place that
goes to the locations the Red line will.
B10 - You are doing what exactly? Being an advocate is doing nothing
more than me being a naysayer and writing about "it". You're not
planning, building, or executing anything. Want to be an advocate for
something that really matters, do something about the senseless murders that
are becoming an all too familiar daily scene in the United States. And
really, BOO HISS - sounds like I'm back at Towson High.
B11 - One underground connection does not make a system to system transfer
seamless, especially if it is not properly maintained.
B12 - There is nothing wrong with using high-level platforms for wheelchair
access, especially given the number of times the service gets used.
The only time that becomes a problem, for instance, is when I took my
handicapped daughter to an event downtown, and the operator missed the
platform in Lutherville on the return trip, and had to walk to the other end
of the train to back it up (instead of being able to use reverse).
Portland Oregon gets around this by using a mixture of high-level and
low-level cars in the same train, which necessitates using a two-pack all
day long instead of being able to use a single car as we do after 8pm - the
only real drawback to Tri-Met's approach.
Also in 12, by utilizing the Metro Subway's tunnel, you now have a
"built-in" system of "blending" and transferring between the systems... this
is an obvious benefit. Can you imagine, wanting to go from Jackson
Heights up in New York City, to (say) the Bronx, and then having to come out onto
the streets in order to transfer to another line - how awful would that be?
Think of making mass transit a pleasant mode of transportation to take,
instead of the ordeal the MTA has made it today in Baltimore. You have
transit professionals that don't make logical or intelligently driven
decisions - they are driven by cost.
If you want to look at some of the bad decisions our MTA has made in the
past. These are issues I became aware of when I worked at Light Rail,
Lord knows how many other screw-ups I never heard of happened - so what
makes you think mistakes won't happen when the Red Line gets built (or what
is happening now as the Purple Line is being built?). And how much
will those mistakes cost us?
--1) Support poles for the catenary on the light rail line are on THE
OUTSIDE of the two tracks, and not in the middle, thereby doubling the cost
of this aspect of construction. Poles only need to be on the "outside"
at crossovers - multi-millions of dollars wasted.
--2) Someone in engineering, back in the 90's, specified a one megawatt substation for the
yard, didn't find this out until it was installed and it couldn't power the LRV's
in the yard during the winter, it was supposed to be a two megawatt unit.
Not sure how this was ever resolved.... probably never knowing how the MTA operates.
--3) The MTA, without consulting Baltimore City, planned on signal
pre-emption on Howard Street. They purchased all of these special GPS
receivers, that didn't have a required RS-232 port on them (and couldn't
or wouldn't return them to get the correct ones), had them installed on the LRV's, never to be used,
because Baltimore City did not agree to the MTA messing with their traffic
light patterns. Millions of dollars wasted.
--4) On the heavy rail side, the extension to Owings Mills was a different gauge than the rest of the
line by a quarter of an inch, requiring a small section of track, a
transition, to change gauge. Why did this happen if we are using so
called "experts" (and whether they are in the MTA or at a consulting firm,
it makes no matter - this is one problem of not having real railroad professionals
involved with the operation of many transit systems).
--5) Although not an MTA problem, the state, when they built Warren Road
between York Road and I-83, allowed the contractor to do a REALLY piss-poor
sub-standard base for the road. As a result, between the grade
crossing and Beaver Dam Road, it is STILL like riding a roller coaster, even
though they have tried to stabilize the ground, at least twice - it keeps
sinking in places. Where were the inspectors when they were doing the
grading and site prep?
B13) - First of all, comparing the "purchase" of a rail system to that of
house IS EXACTLY TO THE POINT. If you are buying something basically
out of your reach, and someone is offering to pay for 10% of your purchase
price, how do you pay for the remaining 90%? It's kind of like the
people that got roped into buying a house years ago, and then finding out
they couldn't keep up the payments, and had to abandon the house, losing
what they have already put into it. Read the stories surrounding
California's High Speed Rail project.....
Additionally, I don't really understand how and why a rail system is any more
efficient, effective, and convenient than a bus system. You need to
convince a whole lot more people than me with good solid facts to win that
argument! He also failed to complete his thought of the cancellation
and the west side of town, and here's the "agree to disagree" part: my
opinion is not pure BS, because most of my opinions are based on what is
happening around the U.S. on other transit systems, as well as our own.
References are made in A1 and A2 above.
B14) - It would be 45 minutes with a bus on a separated and dedicated
roadway too. And NO, the poor can't really afford to pay for a system that costs
billions of dollars. The only way to make it up to them is to make the
line/system free to use. Remember that it was O'Malley that raised the
state tax from 5 to 6% on January 3rd, 2008, and remember too, that another
Democrat, Paris Glendening, raised the alcohol tax from 6% to 9% on July
1st, 2011. Yes, "they" may be for transit, but having them in office
also hits MY bottom line, as well as EVERYONE else's (at least I save 3% by
not drinking LOL).
B15) - No comment for a change.
B16) - Go for it.
B17) - Well, for once, we both agree that the 58 mil spent on the Maglev
proposal was a waste of money. Looks like he also agrees with the
renaming to the Baltimore Link as a complete waste of both TIME and MONEY.
The renumbering and renaming of the bus routes was a waste of
time, effort, resources, and money. It accomplished basically NOTHING
except to further confuse riders.
Part of the lure to having a rail system put in, as opposed to a bus system,
may be summed up in an observation from the one referenced article about the
NOVA cancellation. And when you like something, you will find reasons
to overlook the negative aspects. It's like buying a new car - and
you're looking at a Cadillac and a Kia. You can only afford the Kia,
but you still want the Cadillac, so let's go out and tax everyone even more
so I can buy the Cadillac :-).
Bottom line, if a rail system is decided on for the Red Line, I don't really
have a problem with it, as a rail and transit fan; I just think it is a HUGE
waste of money that could be better spent somewhere else to make the lives
of -most- of the people that will be using it, better.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
is always given! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.