On Maryland Transit Suckitude

The four feet of snow that fell during Blizzardammerung and its kissing cousin Blizzardammerung II linger on the Maryland landscape like a festering malignancy. I look out at the frozen wastes from my sixth floor office, and I think I should elk and moose wandering the glacier that now lays across the hills and dales of the Old Line State.

And, from my office, I see the Light Rail as it runs through the business park.

The Light Rail, despite running entirely above ground, has been running pretty much consistently on time since last week.

Baltimore’s subway, however, has been something else entirely.

The Maryland Transit Administration website reports on outages and delays on the various lines.

It also lies.

Yesterday, for instance, it reported that service had been restored on the entire length of the subway line and that there were no delays.

Only, service had not been restored on the entire length of the line. The line was running a single track from Old Court to Owings Mills, which resulted in, yes, delays.

But, let’s rewind back a day. Let’s go to Monday.

On Monday, service on the subway had been restored only to Old Court. From there, the website reported that a shuttle bus was running out to the end of the subway line at Owings Mills. And the woman at the booth in the Old Court station confirmed this when I asked her.

However, the reality was quite different.

I arrived at Old Court at 7:15. I rode the escalator up from the platform. I walked through the turnstiles. I walked down the long tunnel to the parking lot. It was cold, it was snowing, and there was sleet mixed in. I waited curbside for the shuttle bus; there were already about twenty people, presumably from the previous train, waiting for the shuttle.

Buses came. None were buses heading to Owings Mills. They were heading east and south, into Baltimore. None were heading west.

More trains arrived. More passengers departed their trains, made their way to the curb.

More snow fell. More sleet fell.

Seven-fifteen turned to seven-thirty. Turned to eight. Turned to eight thirty.

The crowd grew, and tempers flared. Some would occasionally rush a bus, trying to berate the driver into abandoning his route to take us to Owings Mills. One driver spent several minutes on the phone with a dispatcher, trying to figure out what what going on (as it was now 8:40), only to get angry and drive off when someone started pounding on her bus’ door.

Finally, at five past nine, a bus heading to Owings Mill arrived. How the large crowd fit into the bus I don’t know. The bus must have been dimensionally transcendent.

An hour fifty minutes in the cold and the falling snow and sleet.

Yesterday’s story was not nearly as compelling. Arrive at Old Court, disembark, wait for a train said to be coming ten minutes behind that will carry us on all the way to Owings Mills. Instead, it was half an hour.

I know, MTA has a lot of track that they are still working on; much of the track above ground — in other words, between Owings Mills and West Cold Spring — is not that clear. I saw teams digging out the track, in particular the power rail, with shovels on the commute in this morning. Perhaps a few days of forty-plus temperatures will melt some of the snow and improve the passability of the subway tracks. Perhaps.

But then I think about that hour and fifty minutes Monday night, waiting for a shuttle bus. :-/

Maybe that‘s why I’ve been sneezy since yesterday…

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