MARC plans process for schedule changes
The Maryland Transit Administration will outline a series of schedule changes on the Penn Line Jan. 20 before the MARC Riders Advisory Council as part of a plan to run more trains but with fewer cars.
Henry Kay, the MTA's deputy administrator for planning, said the agency believes that running lighter trains could relieve some of the burden on its locomotives, which are prone to breakdowns when carrying heavy loads in hot weather. He said MARC is now working with Amtrak -- which owns and operates the Penn Line -- to determine how to make the changes work with Amtrak's own schedule.
"They agree in principle," Kay said.
If the changes pass muster with the advisory council, Kay said the proposed changes would be presented to a broader group of riders at a series of "town halls" around the region. If the reaction from riders is favorable, he said, the changes would be brought to the Board of Public Works for final approval. He said the board would have to review the changes because they would involve a change to the MTA's contract with Amtrak. Any schedule changes, he said, would have to coincide with the next overhaul of Amtrak's timetable this spring.
Kay said the change would give riders more choices of times to catch a Penn Line train. But he added that the MTA can't assume riders will welcome the plan.
"We know riders get comfortable with one train or another," he said. "We want to be sure the riders see this as an improvement."