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The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is a state-operated mass transit administration in Marylandmarker, and is part of the Maryland Department of Transportation. It is better known as MTA Maryland to avoid confusion with other cities' transit agencies who share the initials MTA. The MTA operates a comprehensive transit system throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. More than 50 local bus lines serve Baltimore's public transportation needs, along with other services that include the Light Rail, Metro Subway, MTA Maryland Commuter Bus, and MARC Train. With nearly half of Baltimore residents lacking access to a car , the MTA is an important part of the regional transit picture.


Map of the Baltimore Transit Co. trams in 1945

The MTA was originally known as the Baltimore Metropolitan Transit Authority, then the Mass Transit Administration before it changed to its current name. The MTA took over the operations of the old Baltimore Transit Company on April 30, 1970.

Many of the routes of most of the agency's current bus lines are based on the original streetcars operated by the Baltimore Transit Company and its parent companies between the 1890s and 1960s. All these routes were ultimately converted to rubber tire bus operations, and many of them were consolidated, extended into newly developed areas, or otherwise reconfigured in order to keep up with the ridership demands of the times.. Additional routes and extensions were added in later years to serve communities that were later developed, and to feed into Metro and Light Rail stations that were later built.

With the growth in popularity of the private automobile during the 20th century, streetcar and bus ridership declined, and the needs for public transportation changed. Mass transit in Baltimore and other cities shifted from a corporate operation to a tax-subsidized state-run service. The amount of service provided was greatly reduced, and some areas once served by streetcars are currently served by buses very minimally or not at all.

The demise of the Baltimore streetcar took place between the years of 1947 and 1963, as operators found buses to be low maintenance and more cost-efficient. As rails were demolished, Baltimore was no longer a streetcar city. As transit needs and trends changed, rail transit did return to the city, with the Metro Subway opening in 1983 and the Light Rail in 1992.


Bus transit

MTA Maryland #04119 on the 27.

Bus services operate throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area and other parts of the state. These include local bus lines (routes 1 through 98 and routes M-1 through M-17), which serve areas of Baltimore Citymarker, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel Countymarker. Commuter and express bus lines, which also operate within other parts of the state, include routes 120 through 995.

Local Bus

Local bus lines are identified by a one or two digit number, with metro connection lines, once identified as "M" lines, recently becoming two digit numbers.

Express Bus

The MTA operates four express bus lines in the Baltimore area, which are the 104, 120, 150, and 160.

Commuter Bus

Independent bus companies operate 22 commuter bus routes in the Washington and Baltimore regions. Baltimore-bound buses are numbered in the 300 and 400 range. Washington-bound buses are numbered in the 900 range.

Rail transit

Metro Subway

This system operates elevated and underground from a corporate and shopping complex in Owings Millsmarker in Baltimore County into the heart of Downtown Baltimore City's business, shopping and sightseeing districts to the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medical Center Complexmarker. The northwest-southeastbound route includes 14 station stops.

Light Rail

Light rail at BWI station

This service travels from a corporate, hotel, and shopping complex in Baltimore County’s Hunt Valley, through the suburbs north of Baltimore and northern Baltimore City and into the heart of downtown Baltimore's shopping, sightseeing, dining, and entertainment districts, past the harbor and through southern Baltimore City and finally to BWI Marshall Airportmarker and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County. There is also service to Amtrak’s Baltimore Penn Stationmarker.

The Light Rail operates at grade for the most part, though it travels on bridges crossing several bodies of water. There are 33 station stops along the system. Although much of the line was single-tracked when it was built, the MTA completed a double-tracking project in early 2006, and now only a few short single-track sections remain.


This service operates three lines that provide commuter rail service to riders out of and into Baltimore, Washington, D.C.marker, Frederickmarker, Perryvillemarker, and Martinsburg, WVmarker, as well as several other locations in between.

MARC commuter train at Brunswick station

Proposed services

Previously the MTA has studied a maglev train between Baltimore and Washington, D.C; this project now appears inactive.

Currently the MTA is studying a number of proposed services, which includes the Red Line (a proposed east-west LRT or BRT line that would pass from Woodlawnmarker to Patterson Parkmarker) and the Green Line (a proposed north-south line that would extend from the Johns Hopkins Hospital into northeast Baltimore, possibly as an extension of the Metro Subway).

Outside of Baltimore the MTA is also studying the Purple Line between Bethesdamarker and New Carrolltonmarker, and the Corridor Cities Transitway between Gaithersburgmarker and Clarksburgmarker. Both studies are also evaluating BRT or LRT options.

Other services


MTA was among the first transit agencies to offer paratransit for persons with disabilities. This mobility service is a "non-fixed route" service and consists of a fleet of specially converted Ford F-350's and Ford Crown Victorias. Some service is contracted out to MV Transportation and Veolia Transportation, but all vehicles are owned by MTA.

Taxi access

A sub-service of the Paratransit program is MTA's Taxi Access program, designed with technology made by a company called MJM Management. The Taxi Access program ensures that any sufficiently physically disabled person that consistently requires Paratransit service can also qualify for the Taxi Access program. The Taxi Access program allows the bearer of a Taxi Access card to take a taxicab door-to-door within the limits of anywhere MTA Paratransit vans go; i.e. within 1/3 of a mile of an MTA public transit stop of any kind. Once the trip is complete, total out-of-pocket cost for the customer is $3.00, and the MTA picks up the rest of the price of the fare, "paying" it to the driver in the form of a voucher that s/he later redeems at his/her cab company headquarters.


These are the current fare prices for MTA buses, Light Rail, and Metro Subway travel.. There is a separate fare structure for MARC Train services.

Regular Fares

Type of Fare Cost (USD) Express Bus Service Notes
One Way $1.60 $2.00
Day Pass $3.50 +.40 (per ride) Allows unlimited use of the bus, Light Rail, and Metro Subway on the day purchased.
Weekly Pass $16.50 +.40 (per ride) Allows unlimited usage of MTA services for that week (Sunday through Saturday).
Monthly Pass $64.00 $80.00 Allows unlimited usage of MTA services for the calendar month.

Disabled and Senior Citizens

Note: There is a special fare structure for disabled people and senior citizens with a special photo ID issued by the Maryland Transit Administration.

Type of Fare Cost (USD) Express Bus Service
One Way $0.55 $0.95
Day Pass $1.20 +.40 (per ride)
Monthly Pass $16.50 +.40 (per ride)

Neighborhood Shuttles

Note: The shuttle's fare system only applies to one-way trips. Daily, weekly, and monthly passes can be used as on other buses.

Type Cost (USD)
Regular $1.00
Senior Citizens/Disabled .50


Note: People who qualify for paratransit services can use all MTA rail and bus services free of charge.

Type Cost (USD)
One Way $1.85

Fare collection methods

Prior to the summer of 2005, the MTA used an older fare collection system. Day passes purchased on buses were printed out by a separate machine than the bus fareboxes. It was possible to alter these passes so that they could used on other days, and to sell them to other passengers, as well as make duplicate passes and sell them to others for a cheaper price than the MTA's official fares. This was despite the fact that they were officially non-transferable.

The MTA has since installed new fareboxes on all of its buses that issue daily passes with magnetic strips; new ticket vending machines at Light Rail and Metro Subway stations issue identical passes including the weekly and monthly passes. Weekly and monthly passes are not sold on buses.

The newer day passes can only be used on the appropriate day because the machine encodes the date and expiration time in the magnetic strip, which is read when swiped through the magnetic reader. Swiping the pass also sets a time waiting period on reuse so the pass cannot be immediately handed to a different passenger and used for free boarding. And will also make it difficult for passengers to use Counterfeit passes when boarding the bus, Light Rail, and Metro Subway. State Employees who possess a Maryland State Employee ID card can ride MTA local bus, Light Rail, and the Metro Subway free of charge. Any state Employee with the ID card can get a continuation ticket to get through the gates on the Metro Subway. As for the bus, they can show the driver the state employee ID card when boarding the bus. And on the Light Rail, they only have to show the ID card in the event of a fare inspection while other passengers show their tickets. MTA employees can also ride free of charge if they carry their MTA employee ID card.

The MARC train service is preparing for the eventual integration with the regional SmarTrip smartcard-based fare system. The system will involve conductors using hand-held units to validate SmarTrip cards as well as the MTA's Maryland Transit Pass.

Maryland Transit Pass

The MTA plans to begin selling smart cards under the name CharmCard. These will be similar to, and compatible with, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority's regional smart card system, the SmarTrip card.

When the CharmCard system is fully implemented, it will be used not only on Maryland Transit Administration transit services, but will also be able to be used in Washington D.C.marker on all WMATA buses, the Washington Metromarker and on most local bus services in Northern Virginia. Likewise, the WMATA SmarTrip card will be accepted by the fareboxes used by the MTA.

Special programs

Baltimore City Public School System

A special agreement is set up between the Baltimore City Public School System and the Maryland Transit Administration to allow all eligible BCPSS students (usually students who live outside a predetermined area surrounding the school) during a school year to receive one color-coded booklet of dated tickets for each month with an ID card with a special number printed on the booklet and on the lower-right hand corner of the tickets.The tickets allow students to ride on MTA buses, light rail, and subway free going to and from school.

MTA College Pass

The Maryland Transit Administration has a special program set up with 24 Baltimore area colleges and universities which allows college students who are enrolled in a minimum of 6 hours per week can receive a monthly pass for $39.00.

Participating colleges

External links



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