Baltimore’s ‘Charm City Circulator’ designed for easier center-city access

charm city

“Smart Transit” gadfly Howard Wong included a discussion of free shuttle loops in his New Years email blast.

Free useful shuttle loops are the hottest transit trend in the United States, Wong writes, with big gains in new ridership — like in Baltimore, Dallas, Raleigh, Denver, Minneapolis, Bethesda, Aspen, Long Beach, South San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, PresidioGo, UCSF, Mission Bay. Funding mechanisms vary — public, private, public/ private business, parking taxes, transit grants, advertising. In San Francisco, every neighborhood’s loop bus could connect markets, commercial cores, schools, libraries and major transit corridors for free.

“Baltimore’s new transit network, which supplements the city’s metro rail, light rail, commuter rail, and bus routes, is the most recent example of a trend that has taken American cities by storm: the creation of auxiliary routes for the inner-city that are designed for frequent, high-quality service with the goal of attracting onto buses people who aren’t used to public transportation.” His link to “Cities Develop Alternative Bus Networks to Combat Perceived Disadvantages of Mainline Routes” at “The Transport Politic” is five years old but a check of Baltimore’s “Charm City Circulator” website indicates the system is alive and well, with 10-15 minute spacing on a growing number of routes in their winter schedule.

“It has been like pulling teeth to get the City to deal with poor transit circulation as areas are rezoned for housing and dense offices,” writes Sue Hestor, singling out the Eastern Neighborhoods as most lacking in comprehensive transit planning. “Why not free bus loops NOW?” she asks.  Continue reading →

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