November 2, 2011

Port sets 3rd straight record for cruise passengers

The port of Baltimore has set a record for cruise passengers for the third straight year, breaking last year's mark with two months to go.

The Maryland Port Administration said Sunday's sailing of the Carnival Pride, its 89th cruise of the year, pushed its 2011 total to 212,821 -- exceeding the record of 210,549 set on 90 cruises last year.

The port still has 16 cruises scheduled to ship out of its South Locust Point passenger terminal this year -- for a total of 105 operated by the Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean lines.

Last year the port was ranked No. 5 among East Coast cruise ports an No. 12 nationally. Baltimore has been offering year-round cruising since 2009 on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Among the destinations served out of Baltimore are the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean, New England and Maritime Canada.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 12:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Afloat

August 12, 2010

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Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:28 PM | | Comments (0)

July 8, 2010

Dundalk man gets 18 months for abandoning boat

A Dundalk man was  sentenced to 18 months in jail after he failed to remove his derelict boat from Bear Creek in Baltimore County after a judge gave him the chance to do so.

Michael Anthony Danna, 52, was charged in June 2009 with littering more than 500 pounds in state waters after Natural Resources Police saw him trying to sink his 1967 36-foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser on Bear Creek at the Beltway.  Last  August,  District Judge Norman R. Stone III accepted Danna's guilty plea but delayed sentencing until this week so Danna could remove the vessel.  

Continue reading "Dundalk man gets 18 months for abandoning boat" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:22 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Afloat

July 7, 2010

Duck Boat collides with barge in Philadelphia is reporting that a duck boat with 37 passengers aboard collided with a barge today in the Delaware River in Philadelphia. According to the report 35 passengers were plucked from the water, while two are missing.

Ride the Ducks, operator of the amphibious tours, was active in Baltimore -- offering tours of the Inner Harbor and downtown, before  closing up shop in 2009.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 4:00 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Afloat

June 28, 2010

C&D, for some, means Cruising & Drinking

A look at the Natural Resources Police blotter for the weekend shows a curious pattern of activity on the C&D Canal in Cecil County. This looks like a pretty formidable haul for one weekend on the canal:

Cecil County – On June 25, 2010 at 7 p.m., NRP charged Douglas Thomas Dolphin, age 26 from Elkton, Md., with operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol and operating a vessel while impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol.  The charges originated when Dolphin’s vessel almost struck a marked patrol vessel on the C & D Canal Basin in Chesapeake City.

Cecil County – On June 26, 2010 at 6:25 p.m., NRP charged Eric August Mitana, age 22 from Gibbstown, NJ, with negligent operation of a vessel, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol and operating a vessel while impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. Mitana was stopped on the C & D Canal in Chesapeake City for not displaying proper registration numbers on his vessel.

Cecil County – On June 26, 2010 at 7:20 p.m., NRP charged Michael Frederick O’Conner, age 30 from Chesapeake City, Md., with operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol and operating a vessel while impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. O’Conner was stopped on the C & D Canal in Chesapeake City when he was observed operating a power vessel in an unsafe manner.

Cecil County – On June 25, 2010 at 5 p.m., NRP charged Andrew Philip Garrison with operating an unregistered vessel, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol and operating a vessel while impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. Garrison was stopped in the C & D Canal in Chesapeake City for operating a vessel without displaying required registration numbers.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 11:50 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Afloat

December 23, 2009

Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009

Apart from disasters, transportation stories tend to unfold over the course of many years. Some of the ones that garner big headlines at the time will be all but forgotten in a few years time. So in choosing the Top 10 Maryland transportation stories of the past decade, it helps to project forward to 2020 or 2030 and look back at what made a lasting difference.

A little disclosure is in order. I have covered transportation for The Sun since 2004 and before that followed many transportation-related stories as a State House Bureau reporter. So there might be a bias in favor of the stories I covered. (Thanks to my colleague Scott Calvert to reminding me of the Howard Street Tunnel fire, which occurred before my time on the beat.)

With those caveats, I present my top 10 in the bottom-to-top format made wildly popular by David Letterman:

10. Light rail double-tracking project completed. When Baltimore's light rail system opened early in the 1990s, it soon became clear that the system had been built on the cheap. The decision to run trains on a single track over long stretches led to constant delays and operational difficulties. Thus, under the Glendening administration, the decision was made to add a second track. The Ehrlich administration then made a tough decision to expedite the work by closing down the southern and northern stretches of the system for periods of about a year. It was a rough time for light rail users, but the project was finally completed in early 2006, and the result has been much more reliable service on this still image-impaired system.


                                                                                                 Sun photo/Amy Davis/2006      

Continue reading "Top 10 Md. transportation stories: 2000-2009" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 7:33 AM | | Comments (7)

November 5, 2009

Man charged with operating school boat while drunk

A man who ferries schoolchildren between their homes on Smith Island and their classes in the Eastern Shore town of Crisfield has been charged with operating the vessel while drunk.

According to the state Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the 60-foot school boat Wednesday while the operating was taking five chidren to the island. The department said the operator tested positive for alcohol use and was detained until a DNR police officer arrived to arrest him and to take the children home.

Alan Wade Tyler, 49, of Smith Island was charged with operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by any drug or combination of drugs and alcohol and negligent operation of a vessel.

The department said the Coast Guard has temporarily suspended the operator’s license and will begin administrative disciplinary proceedings.

 “We take violations affecting passengers, especially children, very seriously,” said Cmdr. Kelly M. Post, chief of prevention at the Coast Guard’s Sector Baltimore.“I have initiated a detailed investigation and will take the appropriate measures to prevent and deter violations like this in the future.”

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Afloat

September 2, 2009

Free commuter water taxi gaining riders


Water taxi at Fells Point


Sun photo/Michael Dresser                     

Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of Baltimore's Department of Transportation, passed along some figures showing that the city's commuter water taxi service between Locust Point and Fells Point has been building up some more-than-respectable numbers.

Kendrick said the city's goal for the service was to have 75 boardings a day until it could supplement the service with a land-side shuttle, with the expectation that would grow to 150 once that service was in place. But Kendrick said that even without the shuttle, the weekday water taxi is getting more than 150 boardings a day.

The city inaugurated the service in early May. Ridership figures provided by the contractor, Harbor Boating Inc., show that the service has regularly exceeded 800 boardings a week since late June. One day in July, it reported an astonishing 327 boardings for the less-than-five-minute crossing between Fells Point and Tide Point.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 6:29 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Afloat

July 17, 2009

Commuter water taxi? Great, but collect a fare

The Dixon administration scored a coup this week when it scored a federal grant to expand its pilot commuter water taxi  that now serves Fells Point and Locust Point to Canton.

It's a great idea on some levels. The Locust Point peninsula presents a difficult challenge for surface mass transit. The population isn't sufficient to sustain a rail transit line, and the No. 1 bus  line doesn't have the ridership to secure frequent bus service. Except for the caveats mentioned below, water is the most efficient way to get people to  and  from there to East Baltimore.

But I'm not sure it's a good idea to make it free. You see, free isn't really free. It's fully subsidized. The money has to come from somewhere. But once you call something free, people expect it to remain so and become mightily offended when -- inevitably -- the 100 percent  subsidy is withdrawn. Consider what happened when the Maryland Transportation Authority stopped fully subsidizing people's E-ZPass accounts. Many subscribers reacted as if their first-born child had been confiscated. Perks quickly become viewed as entitlements.

It would put the water taxi on a plane of greater equivalency with other forms of mass transit if the city charged a modest fare once the service expands. It wouldn't have to be a 100 percent recovery of costs. We don't ask any form to  mass transit to do that. But a modest fare -- say $1 to Fells Point and $2 to Canton  -- establishes that the city is providing people with something of real value. It also seems a little unseemly to be providing this service to relatively affluent neighborhoods free when  residents of poorer areas pay $1.60 for a bus ride.

A point for users of the service: Once you pay a fare, you've earned the right to complain. As long as it's free, it's hard to  work up much sympathy with any gripes that  may arise.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:07 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Afloat

July 15, 2009

Water taxi service requires honest disclosure

water taxiBaltimore's new -- and soon-to-be-expanded -- water taxi service for commuters is a very attractive idea in many respects. I rode it from Fells Point to Locust Point Tuesday evening and it was a perfect crossing that too less than five minutes each way. This fall it is expected to start offering an eight-minute passage between Locust Point and Canton.

 But reader Mark Adams introduced a note of reality in an email. He wrote: "The late Ed Kane used to tell me that he NEVER wanted to have commuter service because of the problems that come when you deliver someone to work in the morning and can't take them home in the evening because of a thunderstorm."

Mr. Adams, channeling the late water taxi entrepreneur, makes a great point. Tuesday evening might have been a perfect day for a crossing, but there will be many imperfect days. The city, the water taxi and the commuters themselves must all understand that safety trumps schedule and convenience on every occasion. The fact that a rider gets a free, convenient trip to Locust Point in the morning doesn't mean that person is entitled to a ride back that evening. If storms are in the area, the boats must not leave the dock. There can never be another Lady D incident in Baltimore harbor.

Continue reading "Water taxi service requires honest disclosure" »

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:54 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Afloat

July 14, 2009

Grant to help city expand water taxi service

The mystery of that $1.59 million federal stimulus grant for a Baltimore ferry project has been solved. It's actually going to pay for an expansion of the city's commuter water taxi service.

Since May, Baltimore has been offering a free commuter service from Fells Point to Locust Point. According to Jamie Kendrick, the deputy director of the Baltimore Transportation Department, the grant money will allow the city to buy three new boats and add a second route from Canton to Locust Point.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 3:37 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Afloat

U.S. awards $1.6 million for Inner Harbor ferry

The Federal Highway Administration just announced a $1.6 million award for a ferry project in Baltimore called the Inner Harbor Connector.  This project hasn't been on my radar at all, so any information anyone wants to share would be appreciated.

It's part of a distribution on $60 million in federal stimulus funds for ferry projects around the country, announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. According to the department, the Maryland  grant will go toward pier improvements and purchase of a new ferry.


Posted by Michael Dresser at 2:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Afloat
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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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