Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MARC commuter railroad could implement daily bike service on the Camden Line

The MARC commuter railroad line serves Maryland and DC, primarily moving commuters from Maryland to DC, with two lines from Baltimore and one from Martinsburg, West Virginia.  The Penn Line, which starts in Perryville, is heavily used, the Camden Line, from Baltimore to DC, is lightly used.

According to a post on Greater Greater Washington, MARC just announced that they are converting two cars to accommodate bikes, and they will put one car in service on the Penn Line on weekends. If this is successful, they will extend service to the Brunswick Line on Friday afternoons.

According to the Washington Business Journal ("MARC sets ridership record in April"), the Penn Line has about 25,500 daily riders; the Camden Line has 4,450 daily riders; and the Brunswick Line has 8,150 daily riders. Last year, the Penn Line added weekend service, and intends to increase service based on its increasing success.

MBTA bicycle car, Boston Globe photo.

I am not sure on the details, but it's probably somewhat similar to a train car set up in 2006 by the MBTA in Greater Boston (Boston Globe story) for weekend service in the summer on the Newburyport-Rockport line.

They took out half the seats of one car (42 seats) and installed 39 bicycle racks in their place.

Why not add a bike car to the Camden Line for Monday through Friday service?  The Camden Line runs three trips in each direction, Monday through Friday.

Most of the riders get on in either Baltimore or Washington, although the line serves other nine other stations in between, including College Park and Greenbelt.  The ridership isn't particularly high. Every time I've ridden the Camden trains, there are plenty of empty seats.

Metrolink bicycle train car
A Southern California Metrolink train car wrapped in a promotion to market bicycle access ("Metrolink launches 'bike cars' to transport cyclists," Metro Magazine).

The comment thread on the GGW entry, it occurred to me that the low passenger ridership on the Camden Line, which starts in Baltimore and ends in Washington, is an opportunity.

A bike car could be added to this line without impinging substantively on ridership and capacity.

It could even draw riders to the line--people who want to bring bicycles could take the Camden Line--while simultaneously providing a slight capacity increase to the Penn Line.

Potential problems.  Another GGW commenter says certain Camden Line trains are pretty full. Perhaps an additional car could be added to the train.  Or bike service could be provided only on specific trains, that normally experience fewer riders.

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