Over the past year and a half that I’ve worked for Collegetown, I’ve learned a lot about the various transit issues Baltimore faces and what’s being done to remedy them. With much support from Mayor Dixon’s office, the Downtown Partnership, and Veolia Transportation, starting in July 2009, we will have a free downtown shuttle that will allow Baltimoreans and tourists to get around from point A to point B. The new shuttle is expected to connect the downtown area with the Charles Street corridor and Harbor East with the biotech parks on the east and west sides.
Previous versions of the downtown circulator shuttle have gone *poof* because of one big issue: funding. Funding has always been the concern. This particular service is funded by the increase in parking taxes – that probably explains why you’re possibly paying $2 or even up to $10 more at parking garages. To fund this shuttle service, the city raised parking taxes by 15.5% to hourly and monthly servers.
The service is expected to constantly run in a loop and should be at each stop every 10 minutes. Soon enough you’ll be seeing these hybrid buses going around town and ferrying tourists, Baltimore residents, business professsionals and even college students. Why did this come about you might ask? Well, it’s very simple – it stems from Mayor Sheila’s Dixon sustainability plan and her desire for Baltimore to be a cleaner, greener city.
This is definitely a step in the right direction for Baltimore in terms of different organizations coming together to launch this immense service and to fill this transit need, but some may be skeptical about the longevity about this service. The new shuttle’s predecessor, DASH, fizzled out in 2004, because $8 million in federal and state grants expired. Not to mention those who are commuting from outside the city might not be so happy with paying more money for their parking pass, especially when people are tightening their belts.
Now, what is this service called? Well, that’s where you come in. A naming campaign was launched not too long ago and there’s still time for you to share your voice. In the spirit of CHANGE, put your two cents in and offer a suggestion to what this new service could be called. Of course since this is a naming campaign, there is a prize involved. How do you contribute? Simple! Visit http://www.yournameyourride.com/. Contest ends on February 6, 2009 so don’t delay. While you’re at it, check out the shuttle route and see if you can take advantage of this service.
For now, this is Ankur….