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January 5, 2010

MARC riders: Now I feel your pain

As an occasional rider of MARC commuter trains, I had enjoyed a remarkable string of good luck. Never had I encountered the kind of infuriating delays that I have written about other people enduring over the years. My MARC experiences,  unlike those of many readers, were almost entirely positive.

That streak ended Monday evening when I arrived in a rush at Penn Station to catch the 7:05 p.m. train to Perryville, where I hoped to catch a late dinner with  my wife at the excellent Grist Mill Tavern. Greeting me on the board  was a notification that the train would be 40 minutes late.

It turned out  to be more like 45 minutes, By the time we arrived, about 9 p.m., the restaurant was closed and we had to scramble to make other arrangements. What an  authentic taste  of llife on MARC.

Anyway, there was one glimmer of light. It was nice to see that the Java Moon restaurant and bar had opened in Penn Station about a month ago -- giving the delayed traveler the option of having a  cold beer and sandwich instead of just sitting on the station's uncomfortable seats. The new place fills a longstanding void at Penn Station.  Cheers!

Posted by Michael Dresser at 9:06 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: MARC train


You actually missed the worst of it. Some of us were prevented by police from boarding the 534 train departing at 5:20 pm, because the train was operating 2 cars short and was supposedly overcrowded. Then, we became part of a crowd of hundreds waiting outside as temperature dropped. We waited and watched as first the train that was to be the 436 departing at 5:34, and then the 538 departing at 6:05 sat side by side while mechanics tried to get their engines to work properly. For an hour, we received no communication from the MARC staff scurrying around. At the very least, they should have told us that they did not know the length of the delay and that we should wait inside where it's warm. They finally let us onto a train at 6:20 pm, and it did not depart for another 20 minutes. Total delay arriving in Baltimore: 2 hours ...

Welcome to the club! It's about time you got to see what the rest of us see!

Ha! I was going to write to you about last night's commute, so glad you are writing about it, however as the other poster says you really missed the worst part. It felt like thousands of us (not hundreds) were packed together trying to board and I was STUNNED that there were no announcements. It was a very unsafe situation and someone could easily have been trampled over. I left my office at 5pm and got home at 8pm. Gotta love MARC...not!


I actually managed to get on the 5:20 and get a seat on Monday, so I couldn't complain too much. But my streak won't continue, I know.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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