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MTA Offers Solutions To MARC Train Problems

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Train troubles. The MTA has a long list of problems that detail what went wrong on a MARC train last June.

 Kai Jackson reports that not all Marylanders are on board with the answers.

On a sweltering June day this year, MARC commuter train 538 broke down.  Also broken was the system as a whole and rider confidence.

“It’s 100 and something degrees on this train, and it took two hours for the police to come and remove windows. What was MARC doing?” said one passenger.

A new report says MARC wasn’t doing nearly enough. A consulting firm compiled months of data about MARC service, which is run by Amtrak. 

“Amtrak is the contractor for us but it is our service, and at the end of the day, we’re responsible for how it’s run and the well-being of our passengers,” said Terry Owens, MTA spokesperson. “On that night, we let them down.”

The report details several problems, including a major equipment failure with the train and a lack of communication with Amtrak and passengers.

“We’ve also started to talk to Amtrak about perhaps changing the schedules and moving away from the longer train sets— 7, 8 or 9 cars—to perhaps 6 or 7 cars and adding more service,” Owens said.

MARC is responsible to “keep us notified, let us know anything that’s happening, any kind of change,” said passenger Shelley Murphy of Timonium.

Among the suggested improvements are shorter trains on hot days, better communication with Amtrak staff and a focus on passenger comfort during emergencies.

The report is 52 pages long. Still some riders are not convinced that officials dug deep enough in the effort to fix MARC’s problems.

“My reaction was it took six months to figure out you don’t communicate very well,” said Paul Eberhardt of Towson. “Way to go.”

“One of the things we heard was customer comfort,” Owens said. “You got a train that’s 90 degrees and there’s no air conditioning, you want to make sure there’s some water on board. We began that almost immediately. “ 

The MTA says it has implemented many of the recommendations in the report.

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