In October, 2015 Maryland Governor Larry Hogan unveiled a $135 million plan to overhaul the Baltimore-area bus system, a plan he named BaltimoreLink. BaltimoreLink is designed to eliminate inefficiencies and long waits in the current bus system by implementing a new bus system with three types of bus routes:
1.) CityLink: Color-coded routes that run 24 hours, offer frequent daytime service, connect Metro Subway, MARC Train, Commuter Bus, Amtrak and other services into one integrated network,
2.) LocalLink: These routes provide crosstown connections and fill in gaps between larger roadways to provide full system access and connectivity to neighborhoods and communities and
3.) Express BusLink: These routes provide longer-distance, commuter-oriented trips to both downtown job centers as well as between regional suburban job centers.
Due to the critical part the bus system plays in Waverly’s accessibility to the region, WIA representatives attend hearings and information sessions and communicate with the MTA planning commission. This group wants to ensure that BaltimoreLink serves all the areas that the current bus system serves while achieving the larger goal of having an more efficient and reliable bus system.
The BaltimoreLink overhaul went into effect in June 2017 after three draft revisions that had revisions that reflected changes requested by MTA riders and community members, multiple changes were made that affected the Waverly community:
1.) The initial proposal for the CityLink Red that replaced the 8 and 48 bus lines along the Greenmount/York Road corridor would’ve completely eliminated bus service along the entire Greenmount Avenue corridor and the southern terminus for the CityLink Red was to be in Otterbein rather than University of Maryland Medical Center which was the southern terminus of the 8 and 48. This proposal was completely unacceptable to Waverly and during the initial round of meetings, the meeting that was held at the Waverly Library meeting room was completely full thanks to community organizing headed-up by the WIA and everyone complained about the elimination of bus service on the entire Greenmount Avenue corridor. The second proposal for the CityLink Red fully restored bus service on the entire Greenmount Avenue corridor and the southern terminus was changed to University of Maryland Medical Center. This proposal was fully acceptable to Waverly and at the second round of meetings held, the meeting was held at the Waverly Library meeting room and people stated to MTA that the proposal was great and to keep the CityLink Red as-is. The third proposal and the finally implemented CityLink Red route kept the same route as the second draft.
2.) The initial proposal had eliminated frequent bus service along the 33rd Street corridor between Calvert Street and Loch Raven Boulevard that was previously served fully by the #3 which meant two of the busiest stops in the MTA bus system would’ve been completely eliminated as there was the full elimination of bus service along the entire Greenmount Avenue corridor (both the Northbound and Southbound stops at 33rd & Greenmount). As was the initial proposal for the CityLink Red, this was completely unacceptable to Waverly and in the initial meeting, everyone wanted frequent bus service restored along 33rd Street. In the second proposal, MTA still did not restore frequent bus service along the 33rd Street corridor however their proposal was to have the less frequent LocalLink 24 run along the 33rd Street corridor between University Parkway to The Alameda, that proposal would’ve eliminated bus service along the 33rd Street corridor between Charles Street to University Parkway leaving a gap in service for MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. This was completely unacceptable and at the second round of meetings, the one for Waverly held at the Waverly Library was well attended and the Waverly community voiced opposition to the proposal. In the third proposal and the finally implemented BaltimoreLink plan, the MTA restored bus service to the 33rd Street corridor by putting the CityLink Silver line along the entire 33rd Street corridor however the service is not frequent along the 33rd Street branch and the 33rd Street branch is not 24/7 like the #3 was.
3.) The LocalLink 24 was to replace the #22, in the initial proposal and the second draft, it had the exact same route as the #22 so questions were raised on why the #22 needed to be renumbered to the 24 under BaltimoreLink and the main recommendation was for MTA to keep the number 22 under BaltimoreLink. In the third proposal and the finally implemented plan, the LocalLink 24 became the LocalLink 22.
BaltimoreLink was supposed to bring about a more efficient and reliable bus system and eliminate long waiting times on bus stops for buses for the Baltimore area, this has not panned out for Waverly as the CityLink Silver route on 33rd Street cut frequency of buses on 33rd Street and the CityLink Red does not have the reliability and frequency of the 8 and 48 bus routes, there’s been reports of people waiting at least 40 minutes, many up to a full hour for the CityLink Red and the bus that arrives is consistently full. All of this is unacceptable and goes against what Hogan proposed in 2015, the WIA will continue to fight for changes to the CityLink Silver and CityLink Red to make both much more reliable.