The Baltimore Metro, or Subway, began operations in 1983. It is the city’s most popular public transportation system. In addition to the aforementioned metro, there is an interconnected light rail system known as the Baltimore Light Rail. Trains begin service at 5:00 AM during the week and 6:00 AM on weekends, and run until midnight. Regular tickets cost $1.70 each. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) maintains the Metro system. Currently, both the Subway and Light Rail systems transport an average of 67,000 passengers per day.
The Baltimore Metro (known locally as the Subway) dates from 1983. It is relatively recent compared to similar transportation systems. Various problems and setbacks occurred during both the planning and execution stages. Of the originally planned 114 kilometers of track, only 12.2 kilometers had been built at the time of the system’s inauguration. In 1995 the Baltimore Metro received an extension totaling 24 km as part of the over 100 km originally planned.
The Metro is complemented by the Light Rail, which adds another 48.3 km of track. Currently both the Subway and Light Rail systems transport an average of 67,000 passengers daily, making it the city’s most important public transportation system.
Located in the northeastern United States, Baltimore is the most populous city in the state of Maryland, with more than 2.6 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. Founded in 1729, the city received its name from Lord Baltimore, the first English settler to become established as a landholder in Maryland.
Although Baltimore initially enjoyed a robust manufacturing industry in the early 20th century, eventually the city’s main economic activity shifted to the services industry. This allowed the city to modernize, with the building of streets, highways, public infrastructure, and an excellent public transportation system. This system, which is maintained by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), offers urban and inter-city bus routes, streetcars, railways, and, of course, the Metro.
The Baltimore Metro consists of two principal services. The first, known as the Subway, travels the city from east to west and vice versa. The Subway runs from the Owings Mills neighborhood to Johns Hopkins Hospital, passing through the heart of the city. It consists of 24.8 km of track, which is divided into 14 stations. Only 8 stations are below ground; the rest are either at street level or elevated in certain areas.
It is complemented by the Baltimore Light Rail, which runs through the Hunt Valley neighborhood in the north of the city to Linthicum Heights in the south. It began operation in April 1992, although planning dates back to 1966, when there were plans to build six Light Rail lines. However, the first single-line stretch was completed in 1983. At present only 3 lines are available to passengers. These lines (Blue, Yellow, and Red) operate simultaneously for most of their length. The separation with the Yellow line occurs at the southern end of the route, where it proceeds to Glen Burnie, while the Red line only services one additional station to the Blue line, which is the main downtown station facing North Charles Street. It should be added that the Blue line has two additional stations which connect it to the city airport.
Owings Mills, Old Court, Milford Mill, Reisterstown Plaza, Rogers Avenue, West Coldspring, Mondawmin, Penn-North, Upton/Avenue Market, State Center/Cultural Center, Lexington Market, Charles Center, Shot Tower/Market Place, Johns Hopkins Hospital
Hunt Valley, Pepper Road, McCormick Road, Gilroy Road, Warren Road, Timonium (Connection to Yellow Line), Timonium Business Park, Lutherville, Falls Road, Mount Washington, Cold Spring Lane, Woodberry, North Avenue, University of Baltimore/Mount Royal (Connection with Red Line), Convention Center, Camden Yards, Hamburg Street, Westport, Cherry Hill, Patapsco, Baltimore Highlands, Nursery Road, North Linthicum, Linthicum
Ferndal, Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie
Baltimore Pennsylvania Station
BWI Business District, BWI Airport
The Baltimore Metro operates from 5:00 AM to midnight Monday through Friday. On weekends it operates from 6:00 AM and also ends operations at midnight. Trains operate every 8-10 minutes from Monday to Friday, with the average of 11 minutes between trains on weekends. The trains travel at an average speed of 110 km/h, fast enough to qualify as an urban transport system.
Meanwhile, the Light Rail operates on Monday through Friday from 3:30 AM to 1:30 AM, providing 22 hours of uninterrupted service. On Saturdays the service runs from 4:15 AM until 1:15 AM. On Sundays, the Light Rail operates from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
All Subway and Light Rail stations have connections to local bus lines. The Metro does not connect with the complementary Light Rail service at any stops. In order to transfer from the Subway to the Light Rail, passengers must get off at the Lexington Market station, which has a Light Rail station with the same name about 200 meters away.
Baltimore Metro tickets cost $1.70 each. They may be purchased at ticket vending machines within the stations, which accept both cash and credit cards. Tickets are valid for the Subway, Light Rail and buses, although tickets are not accepted as a single pass for all three services.
When boarding the Light Rail passengers will not encounter any turnstiles that regulate entrance to the train cars. MTA security agents will go through the passageways asking for tickets at random, and passengers who do not have tickets are fined. In addition to the single trip pass, a card known as the CharmCard is also available to passengers, with which one can benefit from several payment plans that could result in considerable savings. These plans are:
For college students, the MTA has agreements with several universities and technical institutes that grant their students monthly passes for $50. Passes include unlimited travel by Metro, Light Rail and buses. Unlike the S-Pass, there is no time limit; university students will be able to use their passes at all times. Just as any authority is authorized to ask teenage students for their student identification, they may also do so with university students, so it is recommended that students always carry the badge of the institution they belong to.
The MTA has its own police department which is responsible for safeguarding the safety of passengers in all of its public transportation facilities.
It has a team of 150 agents allocated to different departments, among which are a uniformed patrol unit, a detective unit and a tactical unit. The departments were recognized with the APTA Gold Safety Award in 2015 and 2016 for their excellent work, the result of good organization for crime prevention. They are empowered with the same authority as the state police, so they can carry out investigations and arrests, and are also allowed to carry weapons. In fact, they have well-stocked arsenals of weapons in their depositories.
Getting to the airport using the services of the MTA is very simple. Its Light Rail service has a station just outside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the BWI Airport station, which can be reached using the Blue line. If you are in the Glen Burnie neighborhood, you should take the Yellow Line to Linthicum Station. Once there, you may wait for the Blue Line of the Light Rail at the same stop going south, which stops at only two stations before reaching the airport. On the other hand, if you are close to the Red Line station Pennsylvania Station, you may take the Blue Line going southbound at the University of Baltimore / Mount Royal stop.
From the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, exit Terminal B, where the BWI Airport station is located. Also, if your destination is one of the neighborhoods that are only served by the Yellow or Red line, you will need to change trains at Glen Burnie or University of Baltimore / Mount Royal respectively.
As mentioned, the Light Rail does not have a direct connection to the Subway, so if your destination from the airport is located east or west of the city, you will have to take the following steps. First, from the airport, take the Blue Line of the Light Rail to the Lexington Market Station. It is the only one available. Upon arrival you have to walk 180 meters to the Subway station of the same name. Remember that only the Day Pass allows for transit on all means of transportation granted by the MTA. Any other pass requires that you purchase separate tickets for each service.
An extension of the Subway from the Johns Hopkins Hospital Terminal to Morgan State University is in the planning stages. This will be the Green Line. It is expected to be very costly, mainly due to the fact of having to build a tunnel that will cross a highly populated area of the city. The project may be adapted to connect with the Light Rail instead of the Subway, or with another rapid transit system.
Meanwhile, the Light Rail also has plans for expansion and even intentions to build a new line going from east to west in the city of Baltimore. Among the new stations that are slated for construction is the Texas station, which will be located near the Timonium station, serving as a complement. Also in development is the Stockholm Street station, its noteworthy aspect being a connection with the Baltimore Greyhound Bus Terminal that would be provided to passengers. In turn, the proposed new line would consist of 22.7 km with 19 new stations, and it will be a separate system from the main route, which would not be directly connected with the latter. This new system would be called the Red Line but it is still under discussion.
The first place to visit if you are in Baltimore and have small children is the Port Discovery Children's Museum, a museum dedicated to little ones with interactive activities that invite you to discover science, art and history. It is located a few meters from the Shot Tower-Market Place Subway station. Depending on the date you can also visit the Royal Farms Arena, a covered stadium where there are always different entertainment events such as concerts, sporting events, and carnivals. It is easily accessible from the University of Baltimore / Mount Royal Light Rail Station.
Also, if you visit the city during the major leagues’ season, you can enjoy baseball games at the imposing Oriole Park at Camden Yards, in front of the Camden Yards Light Rail station. Even if you are not a baseball fan, the experience in the stands is exciting for the thousands of tourists who visit it each year. If it is not baseball season during your visit to Baltimore, the stadium also offers guided tours through which you can access sites where the general public are not usually allowed to enter.
Finally, the quirky Geppi's Entertainment Museum is definitely a must stop. With more than 60,000 examples of pop culture, from posters, vinyl records, and comic strips, to vintage movie ads and more, it has established itself as the largest museum of its kind within the United States of America. It is an excellent place for fans of Geek culture, located a few meters from the Convention Center Light Rail station.
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