On June 18, fewer than 100 days from now, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) will implement Gov. Larry Hogan’s BaltimoreLink transit plan. The transformative rebuilding and rebranding of MTA’s transit system connects people to jobs and life’s opportunities by linking our bus and rail network with high-frequency, reliable service.
In preparation for the launch of BaltimoreLink, MTA’s more than 3,300 dedicated employees have worked to ensure our customers see the benefits of this new initiative immediately.
First, you may have noticed MTA’s distinctive 40-foot-long buses wrapped in the BaltimoreLink colors. For many years, MTA buses used different paint schemes, which confused our customers and didn’t tie the MTA to the identity of the Baltimore region. Now, MTA is wrapping its buses in the striking BaltimoreLink colors, which are based on the red, gold and black of the Maryland state flag. The new look for our buses establishes a strong link with the region we serve and helps longtime customers and people using our service for the first time know they’re about to board an MTA bus.
In addition to the new look, MTA’s buses are getting a new, modern cleaning treatment. MTA recently awarded a contract for the application of EcoSeal, a substance that seals all the interior surfaces and seats of every bus with an anti-bacterial, anti-microbial agent that protects our passengers and our operators from germs and other hazards.
BaltimoreLink is visible in more places, too. One of the most exciting new things we’re doing is replacing all 5,000 old MTA bus stop signs with redesigned signs that include more information and are easy to read and understand. The old blue, white and red signs consisted of a picture of a bus with a route number and included no information on the actual bus route or any connections. With our changes, you can see the dramatic difference. The new signs identify the route, route destination, frequency of the route and stop identification number with instructions on how to text this number to MTA for information on the next arriving bus.
When these new two-sided signs are unveiled in June, our customers will have more information at their bus stops than ever before.
And last, but certainly not least, you may have seen the dark red dedicated bus lanes installed downtown on Pratt and Lombard streets. Dedicated bus lanes are the first step in increasing bus travel speed through our system so the vehicles can stay on schedule and minimize sitting in traffic congestion. The key to making our bus lanes efficient is enforcement. So far this year, MTA police have issued more than 113 citations to vehicles that were driving or parked in the bus lanes. We will continue to focus on enforcement so our customers can get where they need to go on our faster, more reliable system.
These are just some the exciting new features of the Hogan administration’s BaltimoreLink you can see right now as you travel throughout the surrounding region. Additional improvements are coming soon, including new transit signal priority equipment on key north-south routes such as Loch Raven Boulevard, York Road and Greenmount Avenue.
Paul Comfort is the MTA administrator and CEO.