Charm City Circulator provokes reader questions
Sun photo/Jed Kirschbaum
Veolia Transportation driver Paulette Coles drives the new Orange Route bus.
Monday's debut of the Charm City Circulator come a spate of reader questions about the conception of the new service. They're good questions, but the city's answers make a lot of sense too.
Johns Houst asks:
If the circulator is such a great deal, why not extend circulator service to JHU’s Homewood Campus from Penn Station rather than install the “planned” trolley?
Jamie Kendrick, the city's deputy transportation director, said the planned Purple Route service due to open this spring will turn around at Penn Station for two basic reasons: cost and time.
In other words, the extra cost of extending the service to Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus would over-extend the circulator's budget while blowing its timetable. One fact of life in the bus business is that the longer a route extends, the harder it is to maintain a consistent schedule and the more things that can go wrong.
Kendrick said there are still efforts being made by the Charles Street Development Corp. to organize a trolley service that would serve Homewood, but the financing hasn't materialzed yet.
My view is that the city is wise not to try to be all things to all people with the circulator service. If it takes off, there is always the possibility of expansion. As for Homewood, there is ample service to the campus aboard several MTA routes at a cost of $1.60 each way, while students and faculty are served by their own free campus bus service.
Tom Giossi asks:
I may have missed this somewhere in the coverage of the circulator over the past few months, but why don't the Purple and Green lines connect? i.e. someone going from Penn Station/Federal Hill to Fells Point would have to change lines twice
This is an excellent question: One of the things that is glaringly obvious about the Circulator map is that the Purple and Green lines never cross. (The Orange Route connects with both.)
But what constitutes a connection anyway? The light rail and the Metro subway, for instance, interconnect in a manner of speaking. The both have Lexington Market stations and there's a State Center/Cultural Center connection, though it can take a two-block walk to make a transfer. It doesn't help that the areas are not particularly inviting after dark and the signage is substandard.
With the Purple and Green routes, the connection or lack of it is a similar story. A rider can bridge the gap between the lines by walking the roughly 2 1/2 blocks from the Purple Route's Light Street stop behind the Mitchell Courthouse to the Green Route's City Hall stop.
Kendrick said the city tinkered with various ways of bringing the routes closer but couldn't do so without throwing off the running times on one route or another. Given the maze of one-way streets downtown, I couldn't see an obvious solution. Good signage pointing toward the walking connection would be a partial solution.
Another reader, known only to me as Richard, inquires:
Although its only one block, I cannot figure out why the Circulator headed towards Fells Point stops at Eutaw & in front of the old convention center but NOT at Howard Street, you know, at the Convention Center Light Rail stop. Because of this there is no direct connection with the light rail (since Lombard at Howard stop is one block from the Baltimore St stop.
Didn't Baltimore learn its lesson when it built the Light Rail at Lexington Market two blocks from the Metro stop?
So here's the question yet again: How far can one line's stop be from another line's stop and still constitute a connection? My inclination, being relatively healthy and mobile, is to count anything that comes within a block as a pretty decent connection. Kendrick said the choice of stops before the Convention Center and Camden Yards -- each a block from the light rail line -- was a matter of properly spacing a limited number of stops. But, he said, the system is subject to tweaking and adapting as city officials learn more about riders' needs.
Those who think a one-block walk is too much to ask of riders should let the city know their feelings. Don't count on me to join the chorus of complaints.
The last question is the easiest. It comes from Charles H. Stinemire:
Can you tell me how to get a more detailed map of the Charm City Circulator?