BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration is proposing a number of cuts due to revenue decreases brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the agency said Tuesday.
Citing significant ridership declines amid the pandemic, the agency proposed local bus route realignments that would see a total service reduction of roughly 20 percent. The agency cut $43 million from its fiscal year 2021 operating budget, roughly five percent of the total budget.
Among the changes proposed are discontinuing 25 bus routes, including all nine Express Bus routes and LocalLink routes 21, 34, 38, 51, 52, 53, 57, 59, 70, 71, 73, 81, 82, 91, 92 and 95. Eleven LocalLink routes would see bus frequency decrease, while frequency would be increased on LocalLink routes 56 and 78.
There are also a number of proposed changes to commuter bus and MARC train service, including the elimination of Routes 210 from Kent Island and Annapolis to Baltimore and Route 215 from downtown Baltimore to Annapolis.
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The agency is planning to hold ten virtual hearings between October 5 and October 16 to gather public feedback on the local bus service changes. Separate public hearings are being planned for commuter bus and MARC train service changes, though dates have not been announced.
In a joint statement, officials from Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties called the annoucement “a disappointing blow to the entire Baltimore metropolitan region”:
“We understand the deep ways COVID-19 has already and will continue to impact our local economies, we need to ensure that these cuts don’t disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members of our regional population. Making operational and capital budget cuts with no guarantee service will ever be restored is a significant concern. When workers at major regional employers rely on MTA to get to and from work, these cuts to service will further harm our local economies and businesses.”
If approved, the local bus changes would take effect January 3, 2021.
For full details about proposed route changes and hearing dates, click here.