Why can't light rail handle Ravens crowds?
After nearly three weeks of total detachment from Maryland transportation issues, I returned from a European vacation today to be greeted by an Aug. 30 email from readers Sean Jester and Stuart Grey raising some very good questions about the Maryland Transit Administration's light rail system. Here's what Jester and Grey had to say:
I try to use the MTA to get downtown whenever possible. I've purchased the MTA season pass for all Ravens home games and overall I enjoy the freedom from having to drive downtown for sporting events and paying to park. I support the MTA in building the red line and hope that someday the LR and metro subway will be expanded to give Baltimore the comprehensive mass transit system it deserves.
But this last Saturday during the Ravens game two overall minor setbacks just reinforced my belief that the MTA still cannot provide efficient transportation to and from Ravens games.
Usually, getting to a Ravens game on the LR from the Nursery Road station is cinch. Trains are scattered close enough together that I usually never wait longer than 10 mins for a train. The trains may be crowded, but it doesn't bother me. I just want to get down to the game as fast as possible so squeezing onto a crowded train with hundreds of other Ravens fans is a minor inconvenience.
However, last Saturday (Aug. 28), the train I boarded was on the heels of another train, which meant my train had to wait at each station longer than usual to create space between the two trains. Overall, it was a 10 minute delay, which got me to the game later than I would have liked, but in the grand scheme of things it was a minor delay.
But getting home from Ravens games has proved to be a time-wasting and frustrating experience time and time again.
In order to avoid the massive crowds at the Hamburg Station following Ravens games, I walk up to the Camden Yards station where the crowds are smaller and you are guaranteed a spot on the next train. And on very rare occurrences, I am able to run to catch a train as it pulls to the CY station, and make it back to my car in as little as 15 mins. But when I miss that train, it's always 20-30 mins until the next one arrives.
This is exactly what happened last Saturday night. I missed the train as it pulled out of the Camden Yards station at 9:52. The MTA LR schedule says the next train was to arrive at 10:08 p.m. It either never arrived or was delayed to 10:23, which is when the next train was scheduled. So all said and done, the wait was 30 mins and I got to my car an the Nursery Road station about an hour after I left the game. And that to me is just unacceptable.
Now I know this is a small inconvenience compared to some of the delays the MARC trains have been having this summer and the LR troubles that happened during Artscape, but I still don't understand why the MTA cannot get a better grasp on Ravens games. The team has been in downtown Baltimore since 1998, and still the MTA forces fans to wait for 20 and 30 mins for the next train.
What I also don't understand is why the police directing traffic at Howard and Conway force the LR to wait for pedestrians and cars. Is it just me or should mass transit always get the right of way over everything?
So that's it. Sorry for the rant. I know my frustrations are minor compared to some of the other issues the MTA is having, but when you take into account the amount of years the Ravens have been in Baltimore, you'd think that the MTA would have this down to an exact science by now, and they are still light years away from that.
Until I hear they seriously address these issues, I will be taking my chances with the #40 QuickBus.
Well, MTA, it's your turn: Why, after all these years of practice, can't the light rail system deliver better service to Ravens fans? We look forward to hearing the answer.