In short, the article highlights how the “25-year-old rail line’s promise as a transit solution for Baltimore remains largely unfulfilled.”
Baltimore’s experiment with light rail is all-too typical of such projects: severe cost overruns and disappointing ridership numbers:
Initially estimated at $290 million, project costs ballooned amid overruns and adjustments to appease neighborhoods and businesses. To cut opening costs to nearly $370 million, the decision was made to only use a single track on 9.4 miles of the line’s northern stretch.
The federal government paid $120 million for extensions south to BWI Airport, north to Hunt Valley and into Penn Station in 1997. A discussed extension to Annapolis never materialized.
Eventual double-tracking and other upgrades brought the total price tag to about $680 million, the MTA told The Baltimore Sun in 2006.
Before light rail opened, officials projected it would achieve ridership of 33,100 per day by 2010. Ridership reached an average of 29,000 in 2002, but it slid to an average weekday ridership of less than 23,000 in 2015.
Light rail cost roughly $36 million to operate in 2015. In the 2016 state fiscal year, fares paid by passengers covered only about 18 percent of operating costs. That was less than the 23 percent generated by the Metro, 29 percent by Baltimore-area buses and 44 percent by MARC commuter trains.
Is this the kind of money pit taxpayers in the Triangle really want to be forced to pay for?