The Full Wiki

More info on Baltimore Light Rail

Baltimore Light Rail: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

An LRV waits at a red light near Camden Yards.
The Light Rail travels in mixed traffic in downtown Baltimore
Light Rail and Metro Subway map
Light Rail vehicle on Howard Street downtown

The Maryland Transit Administration Light Rail is a light rail system serving Baltimore, Marylandmarker, United Statesmarker, and the surrounding suburbs.In downtown Baltimore it uses city streets. Outside the central portions of the city the line is built on private rights-of-way, mostly from the defunct Northern Central Railway, Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad, and Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway. It is operated by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). In the fourth quarter of 2008, it had a daily ridership of 33,600.


The origins of the Light Rail ultimately lie in a transit plan drawn up for the Baltimore area in 1966 that envisioned six rapid transit lines radiating out from the city center. By 1983, only a single line had been built: the "Northwest" line, which became the current Metro Subway. However, much of the plan's "North" and "South" lines ran along right-of-way that was once used by interurban streetcar and commuter rail routes -- the Northern Central Railway, Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway, and Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad -- and that still remained available for transit development.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Maryland Governor and former Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer put his considerable energy behind building a transit line along this corridor, motivated in part by a desire to establish a rail transit link to the new downtown baseball park being built at Camden Yardsmarker for the Baltimore Orioles. The Light Rail line was built relatively quickly and cheaply, and without money from the U.S. federal government, a rarity in late 20th century U.S. transit projects. The initial system was a single 22.5 mile (36 km) line, all at grade except for a bridge over the Middle Branch of the Patapsco Rivermarker just south of downtown Baltimore. The line ran from Timoniummarker in Baltimore County in the north to Glen Burniemarker in Anne Arundel Countymarker in the south. The Light Rail began service in April 1992, the same month that the Orioles began play at Camden Yards.

Three extensions to the system were added in 1997. In September of that year, the line was extended north 4.5 miles (7 km) to Hunt Valley, adding five stations that served a major business park and a mall. In December, two short but important spurs were added to the system: one a 0.34 mile (550 m) spur in Baltimore that provided a link to Penn Stationmarker, a transit hub also served by MARC and Amtrak trains, and the other a 2.7 mile (4.3 km) link that brought trains to the terminal of BWI Airportmarker.

In 1998, the Hamburg Street station opened as an infill station between the existing Westportmarker and Camden Yards stations. Adjacent to M&T Bank Stadiummarker, it was initially only open during Ravens games and other major stadium events; however, in 2005, it became a full-time stop.

To save money, much of the system was built as single-track. While this allowed the Light Rail to be built and opened quickly, it made it difficult to build flexibility into the system: much of the line was restricted to 17-minute headways, with no way to reduce headways during peak hours. Federal money was acquired to make the vast majority of the system double-tracked; much of the line south of downtown Baltimore was shut down in 2004 and north of downtown shut down in 2005 in order to complete this project. Much of the northern section reopened in December 2005; the rest opened in February 2006.

In early April 2008, MTA mechanics noticed a cracked wheel on one of the light rail trains. Consequently, all 53 light rail cars underwent inspections through May of that year.


Routing and schedules

The Light Rail network consists of a main north-south line that serves 28 of the system's 33 stops; a spur in Baltimore city that connects a single stop (Penn Stationmarker) to the main line; and two branches at the south end of the line that serve two stops apiece. Because of the track arrangement, trains can only enter the Penn Station spur from the mainline heading north and leave it heading south; there are still single-track sections north of Timonium, limiting headways in that section to 15 minutes.

Various routing strategies have been used on the network; currently, there are three basic services:

  • BWI Airport to Hunt Valley
  • Cromwell/Glen Burnie to Timonium (peak) or Hunt Valley (off peak)
  • Camden Yards to Penn Station

Although these routes are colored blue, yellow, and red, respectively on some MTA maps and schedules, they do not have official names as such. Trains heading towards the yards from any direction terminate at North Avenue; passengers traveling to destinations off the Timonium-Linthicum mainline must check train destination signs before boarding.
Southbound Hunt Valley-BWI train at Lutherville station
At peak hours on weekdays (from the first trains of the day until 10 a.m., and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), the BWI-Hunt Valley and Cromwell/Glen Burnie-Timonium routes see 20-minute headways; at other times on weekdays and all day on weekends, there are 30-minute headways on both routes (with Glen Burnie trains travelling all the way to Hunt Valley). The Camden Yards-Penn Station route sees 30-minute headways at all times. Because there is significant overlap on these routes, most of the system sees 10-minute peak and 15-minute off-peak headways; stations in the downtown section between Mt. Royal and Camden Yards are served by six trains an hour off-peak and eight trains an hour at peak. (Paradoxically, the Timonium-Hunt Valley section actually sees longer headways at peak hours.) The full system runs from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, though trains run on the downtown section as early as 4:30 a.m. on weekdays.

As noted above, a significant portion of the Light Rail follows disused interurban right-of-ways. As a result, many stations are located in areas peripheral to densely populated neighborhoods rather than at the heart of them, which has negatively affected ridership. The Light Rail's route through northern Baltimore mostly parallels the Jones Falls Expressway.

Most of the light rail's route is on a dedicated right-of-way, with occasional grade crossings equipped with crossing gates. However, on the downtown portion of the route that runs along Howard Street (between the University of Baltimore/Mt. Royal and Camden Yards stations), trains mix with automobile traffic, and their movement is controlled by traffic signals. In 2007, a transit signal priority system was implemented on this portion of the route, resulting in time savings of 25%.

Overall speed from Hunt Valley to BWI (30 miles of track divided by 1hr 20min scheduled time) is about 22 miles per hour.

Fares and transit connections

MTA fares are identical for the Metro Subway, the Light Rail, and local buses: a one-way trip costs $1.60. Daily, weekly, and monthly unlimited-ride passes are also available that are good on all three transit modes. A passenger with a one-way ticket can change Light Rail trains if necessary to complete their journey -- the only instance where a one-way MTA ticket is good for a ride on more than one vehicle -- but transferring to a bus or the Metro Subway requires a new one-way fare or a pass. Automated ticket machines that sell tickets and passes are available at all Light Rail stations.

The Light Rail's ticketing is based on a proof-of-payment system, similar to that used in mass transit in Berlinmarker. Passengers must have a ticket or pass before boarding. Maryland Transit Administration Police officers ride some trains and spot-check passengers to make sure that they are carrying a valid ticket or pass, and can issue criminal citations for those without one. Civilian Fare Inspectors also conduct ticket checks, alighting those without fare.

Most Light Rail stations are served by several MTA bus routes, and passengers can make platform-to-platform transfers to the MARC Camden Line at Camden Yards and to the MARC Penn Line at Penn Station. There is no direct connection to the Metro Subway -- a fact that may strike the passenger as a distinct oversight in planning. The Metro Subway's Lexington Market Station is a 200-foot walk from the Light Rail stop of the same name.

Rolling stock

Baltimore's Light Rail vehicles (LRVs) were built by ABB Traction, the U.S. division of Asea Brown Boveri. The initial set was delivered in 1991-1992 as the line was being built; a supplemental order of essentially identical cars was delivered in 1997 when the extensions came into service.

Baltimore LRVs are quite large -- much larger than traditional streetcars and bigger even than those used on San Franciscomarker's Muni Metro or Bostonmarker's Green Line. Articulated cars are 95 feet (29 m) long and 9.5 feet (2.9 m) wide, and can accommodate 85 seated and 91 standing passengers. These cars operate on standard (4 ft 8½ in or 1435 mm) gauge track. 1-, 2- and 3-car trains are all routinely seen in service. Trains are powered by an overhead pantograph and have a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).

The MTA currently own 53 individual Light Rail cars, numbered 5001-5053. 5001-5035 were built in 1991 and 1992. 5036-5053 were built in 1996. During typical weekday peak-time service, approximately 30 to 35 cars are required; a somewhat higher number of cars are put into service immediately after Orioles and Ravens games. For weekday service, as well as on days of Orioles games or events at the First Mariner Arenamarker or Baltimore Convention Centermarker, trains going from Hunt Valley to Cromwell and BWI Airport are generally run with two cars, while three-car trains are put into service for Ravens games and major downtown events. Usually the Penn Station-Camden Yards shuttle is operated with one-car trains. The MTA also owns a variety of maintenance of way equipment, which can use diesel power in emergencies.

Several industry spurs are accessible through light rail trackage only, so freight is shunted during off hours.


Travel on the Light Rail was significantly disrupted in 2004 and 2005 when large portions of the system were shut down to accommodate double-tracking work. In the immediate future, the MTA's goals are to recapture ridership lost during this period and to attract new riders with the improved service that is now possible on the double-tracked system.

There are no immediate plans to add track length to the current Light Rail system. An independent commission on Baltimore-area transit made a number of suggestions in a 2002 report for new lines and expansions of existing lines. One proposal was to create a branch of the Light Rail system that would head southeast from the main line at Timonium, run through Towsonmarker and Baltimore, and reconnect to the existing line at Camden Yards. However, this proposal is not being actively pursued at present. There is the possibility of adding an infill station at Texas, between the existing Timonium and Warren Road stations. A set of platforms was built at this point on the line in conjunction with the 2005 double-tracking work to provide a turnback point for trains not going all the way to Hunt Valley; it would be relatively simple to convert this into a revenue station, and reports indicate that the MTA is considering doing so.

One line from the 2002 report that is being considered is the so-called Red Line, an east-west line that would intersect with the existing Light Rail downtown. If the Red Line were to be built as a light rail line, it might be integrated with the existing network; however, the mode -- and even the existence -- for this proposed line is still up in the air. The report also includes somewhat immediate plans to extend the existing subway line northwest beyond Hopkins Hospital, creating an extended version of what will be called the Green line.

See also

External links


  1. American Public Transportation Association, Light Rail Transit Ridership Report, Fourth Quarter 2008.
  2. - Maryland Wire
  4. page 12

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address