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No-Lunch4249 t1_j46f6dk wrote

The biggest problem with The Light Rail imo is not that the cars are fucking massive and outdated nor that the track beds aren’t grass lined, those are small things on the periphery that have minimal impact on the function.

The biggest problem is that it doesn’t have its own, separated Right of Way while in the densest part of the city. They were trying to get it done quick and dirty.

Edit: clarity


biffbagwell t1_j46k72t wrote

And it has to stop at red lights. Wtf


Gitopia t1_j478ixd wrote

it's probably definitely not factual, but it feels like the only place on earth where the trains have to stop and wait for cars that isn't a full on streetcar wtf.


ASK_ME_AB0UT_L00M t1_j48b41f wrote

I'm visiting Melbourne, Australia right now, and the trams (light rail) all interact with traffic in some way, including stopping at red lights and sometimes waiting for cars.


sit_down_man t1_j48v1dc wrote

Philly has this with their streetcars too. Has the same issue. America is so fucking stupid lol


todareistobmore t1_j4a7raw wrote

Philly's trolleys are fine, largely because they've got the benefit of a far more robust network around them. Also in general, Baltimore has much longer light cycles than Philly or DC, so even trolleys getting delayed in traffic is less noticeable.


moderndukes t1_j46wlge wrote

Howard St should just be pedestrianized down town. It would probably spur development there better than whatever the current plans are.


Gitopia t1_j478q5t wrote

Old town mall would beg to differ.

Edit: although, OTM doesn't have light rail so maybe it could work.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j47a976 wrote

The thing is, it helps to be near pedestrians


Xanny t1_j484iul wrote

Nobody really lives downtown, though.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j488t7a wrote

This has also been an obstacle, but it’s changing. Question is…do they ever come out of those apartments? How does it translate into street life?

Because the answer so far is: not much yet


Xanny t1_j48i753 wrote

Its definite a bit.. annoying that I never just "go out" since its so risky in this city to just walk around sometimes and places.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j48l406 wrote

Now, you do have large populations of people who walk to shit and can be engaged in basically l every single direction.

Unfortunately Councilman Eric Costello seems to haphazardly step all over every effort to connect to them whenever bike/scooter/ped infrastructure comes up.

Which is silly! It’s his district he’s hurting in favor of Cohen’s, which doesn’t have those high volume traffic sewers like Pratt/Lombard, Paca, MLK, etc. that repel pedestrians


sit_down_man t1_j48v7e0 wrote

Yes. This is a great idea. There’s enough north/south roads for cars downtown, and especially now with remote work and Covid there’s way less congestion anyway. Return Howard street to the people and rail!


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46fz3b wrote

That is absolutely correct, I am just trying to counter the narrative that light rail means some big ugly train is barreling down on your neighborhood and making it an unpleasant place.


sllewgh t1_j47n7o4 wrote

> I am just trying to counter the narrative that light rail means some big ugly train is barreling down on your neighborhood and making it an unpleasant place.

My mom used to live 200ft from a light rail track, and you'd hardly notice it coming by if you weren't looking out the window. They're barely louder than low level automotive traffic.


S-Kunst t1_j47q7js wrote

Right. There is no reason why the light rail is not given right-of-way many times. Oliver St & Mt Royal. The car traffic light is fully out of sync with the light rail. which makes both the car and the train sit there both waiting for the light to turn green. At that location the light rail is at right angle to Mt Royal. Also there are never ending shut-downs for parts of the system. I used to take light rail to Woodberry for work, but only when it snowed. 50% of the time there was a shut down and I had to walk from North Ave to Mt. V. Not very useful as a commuter line.


rental_car_fast t1_j47rtqh wrote

It also doesn't really go anywhere special. I find it convenient sometimes, and use it when I can, but it just follows 83 so there's no real motivation to use it unless you're going to some place like the stadiums where parking is a challenge.

I wish it was a network, and I wish it made it easier to get places I hate driving, like Columbia.


memeticengineering t1_j47tsn8 wrote

It's nice I don't have to take a car to the airport every time, but that's about it.


gthc21 t1_j49c5zz wrote

The other problem is it’s dumb alignment followed by non existent transit oriented development


yeehawdudeq t1_j46aet3 wrote

Lots of trains that looked like this when I visited Belgium. I was so jealous. Compared, Light RailLink looks MISERABLE


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46bg3r wrote

Well, they were going to do this for the Red Line, but Governor Hogan made sure to put a stop to all that


Matt3989 t1_j46eg8x wrote

The Red Line shouldn't be light rail sharing right of way, the fact that that is even on the table is ridiculous. It's the East-West corridor of our transit system, It will be The Light Rail 2.0 if it's not grade separated heavy rail with a shared station to the Green Line.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46fjm3 wrote

I also prefer heavy rail, but the comparison is apples-and-oranges for the surface segments.

The dense grid with equally important perpendicular streets downtown were bypasses by the tunnel.

This is in contrast to the Edmondson Avenue and Boston Street median right-of-way.

Those are both at the top of the road hierarchy and the trains can be given signal priority.

Unfortunately you do still have to deal with drivers crossing and getting stuck in the path. But you get time back from not having to enter and exit a deep underground station

EDIT: However you should know that Heavy Rail has not yet been ruled out by the MTA.

They are likely not going to try to serve CMS anymore, which means they would save a mile long tunnel under cooks lane. If you do heavy rail, then you use the existing subway tunnel instead of digging a new one and again have a couple billion more to play with


Matt3989 t1_j46h92z wrote

By going down Boston Street it's bypassing one of the densest (and car centric) neighborhoods in the city. It should be under Canton to put it closer to homes and businesses, which would also knock off 2/3s of a mile of track length and 120­° degrees of turns from the alignment. Keep it out of Canton County Crossing, and take it straight to Bayview/Yard 56, Add a spur to the Clinton Street Pier at a later time (after the Green Line to Morgan State Extension has been built).

People on this sub tend to be too new to Baltimore and uniformed about the original project, the narrative is that Canton killed the red line because they didn't want it, even though the Canton Community Associations' arguments against it were always that it shouldn't be LRT with shared RoW in Boston Street, they wanted it underground with a stop in O'Donnell Square.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46ig61 wrote

You’re right! Then, once you’re gotten to the old Norfolk Southern Right of Way, you don’t have to do this really complex portal construction operation like they were gonna end up doing to divert traffic

EDIT: although I think you have to go underground and not elevated for Edmondson Ave west of the MARC station, so I forgot about that


Matt3989 t1_j46lrpd wrote

> EDIT: although I think you have to go underground and not elevated for Edmondson Ave west of the MARC station, so I forgot about that

My opinion has always been that the Highway to Nowhere portion should be used for a Cut and Cover 'transit hub' station near the Marc Station, then use a TIF to attract a National Chain grocery store there.

After that, underground until you hit the service road in Leakin Park and Franklintown Road, then you can run a surface Train to the 70 terminus/SS Admin. It cuts off the southern portion of Leakin and divides wildlife which is unfortunate, but if that's the cost compromise it takes for useful mass transit I think it's worth it.

Ideally it would remain underground through the Village and then turn North to the SS Admin.


neutronicus t1_j46ga1m wrote

If the Red Line is built in such a way that I have to see daylight between Mondawmin and Canton Crossing, somebody done fucked up


AttisofAssyria t1_j46mfv0 wrote

Looks like that in Morocco as well.


yeehawdudeq t1_j479poy wrote

It’s integrated so well into cities elsewhere. I’m tired of the concrete jungle we’ve created here


Go4it296 t1_j47eun3 wrote

Yeah this reminds me a bit of the ones that go through the main strip in Munich too


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j462zud wrote

Imagine if even 1/10th of the effort being put into stopping transit projects, was instead put towards making them better?


megalomike t1_j46a9bc wrote

one reason the light rail is the way it is is that it went largely into existing right of ways that were primarily commercial. the howard street stretch connects those two chunks, and could be a lot nicer.


Dr_Midnight t1_j47kuss wrote

> the howard street stretch connects those two chunks, and could be a lot nicer.

One possibility: Howard Street should be closed to North/South vehicular traffic between MLK and Pratt Street - allowing only light rail and pedestrian traffic. Allow the existing East/West traffic to persist, and convert the now no longer needed for vehicular traffic area to green space.

Just a thought for consideration.


megalomike t1_j47m01e wrote

i think that would be great, and it seems like doing a pilot where they just stop letting traffic on howard would be fairly straightforward.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46b635 wrote

Hm…not sure I follow, are you making a general point about the alignment or the lack of grass?


megalomike t1_j46bmst wrote

well primarily i mean the fact that major stretches go through some of the least densely populated parts of the metro. also going into existing freight right of way limited the connectivity of the stations to the areas where they are located. but howard street didn't have those challenges, if the light rail was given priority over traffic lights, if there were larger shelters, if it ran more frequently it could be much more beneficial.


Matt3989 t1_j46fxx7 wrote

> major stretches go through some of the least densely populated parts of the metro.

It was planned to go through Towson originally, Towson pushed back on it. And honestly, with the state of the light rail now, I don't blame them. We just rehabbed the cars and now we won't even have low floored cars until at least 2050

Major Transit projects shouldn't be undertaken in a half step. The Red Line as Light Rail Transit in a shared Right of Way for 4.2 Billion vs a true subway for 5.5 Billion is a no brainer. (Also that 4.2 billion is going to get blown out of the water 15 years after it's built once the prior rights for utility relocations have been worked out in court)


bmore t1_j46h91x wrote

But the state of the system has a lot to do with the forced alignment and local funding building it on the cheap to get it done over opposition from all of the idiots that are now using the half-ass product they forced as the excuse to not build more. It's a tried and true NIMBY advocacy tactic: water something down until even advocates can't defend it, then point to it as a failure and the reason we shouldn't have more.


Matt3989 t1_j46ht15 wrote

"Look what we built, See no one uses it."

I use the Green Line almost every day and it's pretty great 90% of the time. The light rail is a snail of a train that's main purpose is to bus people from Hereford down to sports.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46jvh2 wrote

It’s funny, so few people people have any reason to use it, but once somebody does they are immediately like “oh yeah, that whipped, we should build more heavy rail”


RealName1234567890 t1_j48acqu wrote

💯 this

I take the subway whenever it makes even a little sense to use it (which, luckily, is anytime I’m going to work). Of all the ways I’ve tried to get around the city, it has consistently been the least annoying and lowest stress way of doing it.

It sucks that putting transit underground is so damned expensive to build, because it makes a huge difference in functionality. (I’d probably even be fine with BRT if it was tunneled the whole way.)


todareistobmore t1_j4a9uxt wrote

> I use the Green Line almost every day and it's pretty great 90% of the time.

Ok, but this beside the point? If the LR would've been built with the same care as the metro, it'd have been a lot more useful.


Matt3989 t1_j4axw5l wrote

You can't build a light rail with electrified third rail cars, that requires RoW separation.

So yeah, if the light rail had been built in a tunnel as HRT it would've been a lot more useful. Which is exactly my point, the Red Line shouldn't be LRT.


todareistobmore t1_j4c3ww4 wrote

> You can't build a light rail with electrified third rail cars, that requires RoW separation.

So? Philly's trolleys run underground and they're fine. What's wrong with our light rail isn't that it's light rail, it's that it was built largely as a gimmick to get suburbanites to Camden Yards.

The problem with trying to do HRT across the city is that it's currently totally unaffordable, both in terms of what it costs and any realistic source of revenue for such a project. So if there is any feasible way to still build the version of the red line that Hogan asked, it's worth doing not least because we have absolutely no idea when federal money may be available again.


baltimorecalling t1_j46jthz wrote

> if the light rail was given priority over traffic lights

Exactly correct.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46dapa wrote

It’s an alright regional train and an alright streetcar, the problem is that it’s a streetcar in the middle


moderndukes t1_j46xwyx wrote

I took the Light Rail the other day from Camden to Timonium for a doctor’s appointment. It was honestly fantastic, and Kaiser was super smart putting the new building right next to the Light Rail stop. I wish there was more transit-oriented development with the Light Rail.

The downtown stretch really is the worst part, but I don’t mind it having to deal with red lights - the one in the post picture also has to. I think if Howard St was pedestrianized it would be far better for all parties.

The only other issue is that trains aren’t going nearly often enough. To generate good usage, three things are needed: location, regularity, consistency. Sometimes you can make up for consistency by having more trains, so a delay for one or missing one doesn’t hurt as much. I want to say the Light Rail is every ~20-30 minutes; it really should be every 15 at max.

Also, weekend and night service should be expanded. And maybe officially make the Light Rail free (most people hop on and off without paying anyway!)


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j47azsu wrote

Yeah, people do forget that our light rail’s average speed is very high overall


Cheomesh t1_j47cvpv wrote

>I took the Light Rail the other day from Camden to Timonium

Whenever I'm in town I'm usually taking it the opposite direction and I'm inclined to agree with you on the experience being positive (and on service expansion if that was possible).


dont_tread_on_dc t1_j470es7 wrote

Baltimore deserves better public transit, investing it would completely change the city for the better.


ThatguyfromBaltimore t1_j46icts wrote

So basically the old trolley system Baltimore had ages ago?

Which I would all be for by the way.


Cat_Toucher t1_j47aj0s wrote

Every time I look at the old street car map and think about what we could have had I want to scream. Of course, I also get the same feeling when I see those goofy, “I made a subway stop everywhere there is a Subway restaurant location” maps too. I won’t say anything would be better than what we have now, but, uh. It’s close.


physicallyatherapist t1_j48jzcg wrote

There was a time when they would come every 4-5 minutes. It makes me so sad to think what could have been


Willothwisp2303 t1_j46evue wrote

All this transportation porn in the morning. Whew!


neutronicus t1_j46fsxb wrote

Honestly, as someone who crosses the light rail tracks on foot daily...

Miss me with these mud puddles


Cunninghams_right t1_j4867g8 wrote

the priority of things for our light rail is:

  1. frequency and reliability. 15min headway is too long for anyone to take it seriously as a mode of transit. it becomes "transit of last resort" when the wait is that long. this is made even worse by the low reliability. I've waited 10min for a train that the sign said was getting closer... then nothing. take out phone, see that the light rail is fucked up today (with no indication at the station), and just call an Uber because now I don't have time to go take the bus. it's stupid. now, I bike or scooter everywhere within the city and either drive or Uber if I'm going outside the city or to the airport.
  2. comfort and cleanliness. if people feel like it's sketchy/unsafe or dirty, they will be less inclined to use it. this shows in transit survey after transit survey throughout the US, but transit agencies struggle to do anything about it, as it would basically require a security guard on every train, which isn't in the budget.
  3. good first/last mile connections. MTA is really bad at getting people to/from the light rail. buses are unreliable and infrequent, and they refuse to subsidize rental bikes/scooters.

I think we should be keeping an eye on Siemens' driverless trams. if we can remove the requirement for a driver, we can run them more frequently AND put security on the trains/trams. not sure if we can really do much about the track maintenance problems that frequently put it out of service. we can separate the RoW a bit more and install gates across the roadway to reduce the collisions with cars, which could help a bit.

that said, I really think it is a mistake for the US to build surface level transit. our politicians don't have the backbone to give it true priority over cars like is needed to make it frequent and fast, so it will always suck.

also, if I recall correctly, our metro and our light rail have the same track gauge. we should turn both the light rail and our metro into a fully-automated tram, each with a 3min-5min headway. sharing the same rolling stock would help reduce maintenance costs and larger vehicle orders generally get a much better deal from the manufacturers


aresef t1_j46cwo0 wrote

The ones in San Diego and Los Angeles are fairly low profile.


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j46do6a wrote

Schaefer bought these huge ones for a reason I’m not entirely clear on, but they’re going to be retired for smaller ones


Matt3989 t1_j46ovsv wrote

I believe a lot of it was a product of timing. We ordered the rolling stock in the 80s, just a few years before modern low floored cars became a widespread thing.


Somali_Pir8 t1_j47ihm3 wrote

Has there been discussion about building in-fill stations? Like at TopGolf/Horseshoe Casino or UMMC Midtown Hospital.


Broad-Brush t1_j47x6m3 wrote

They really should scrap the current light rail between Penn Station and Camden Station while building an extensive street based light rails system like this.


Xanny t1_j4862zb wrote

There is a CSX tunnel from Camden to Penn, it follows the exact same alignment as the light rail. Nothing ever stopped MTA from using the portal entrances on either end CSX already has, widening them, and connecting the light rail to the subway tunnel.

If they buried the damn thing it would be a night and day difference and improvement.


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j498p4r wrote

Light rail in a 2nd tier city doesn’t work. There will never be enough ridership.


gthc21 t1_j49aq49 wrote

Hm. Tell that to literally every small European city with extensive tram networks and a third of the metro population as us.


gthc21 t1_j49at44 wrote

May I remind you we were a larger city than DC only until recently, and they have a massive metro system.


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j49c2l1 wrote

DC is a 1st tier city. Nova is 3million people. Moco and pgco are two most populous md counties.


gthc21 t1_j49cgm5 wrote

What do you think one of the factors that allowed rapid growth of NOVA was? NOVA has nearly doubled since the 90s.


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j49d2qi wrote

Light rail and metro work well in first tier cities. They do not work well in second tier cities. Baltimore is a second tier city. Is there one American second tier city in which light rail works well, and by well I mean rider ship?

It is not being short sighted to point out that car centric suburbs of second tier cities do not support through ridership numbers a light rail system.


todareistobmore t1_j49u8cc wrote

> DC is a 1st tier city.

It wasn't when their Metro was built. Funny how that works, isn't it?


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j49z804 wrote

Dc has always been a first tier city, well before the metro. Baltimore will never be a first tier city.


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j49az91 wrote

That population was never car centric. Putting the genie back in the bottle has not been successful in an American second tier city.


gthc21 t1_j49buq0 wrote

The alternative is remaining in car purgatory.


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j49dl2y wrote

Or you can live in an urban area. Or you can have an E-bike in the suburbs. Lots of other choices I’m sure. If we are switching from gas to electric cars that don’t pollute what does it matter?


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j4cg8rj wrote

“I’ve read one Wikipedia article” tier knowledge


Single-Ad-3260 t1_j4dcbag wrote

I stated facts not opinion. Light rail doesn’t work in a second tier city. I asked if there were any examples, you knew, of an American second tier city in which light rail was built and has high ridership. What facts do you present to someone who does not believe in facts?


gaiusjuliusweezer OP t1_j4e0ui6 wrote

Because “2nd tier city” isn’t something you’ve even defined. It’s just something that sounds like knowledge.

Light rail as practiced in the United States is usually done poorly. Not sure why you think I would disagree.

But there is a difference between trying to fit light rail into a post-war, auto-oriented context without accompanying land use changes