May 5, 2008
The Baltimore InnerSpace Transit Plan
THE FULLY INTEGRATED METRO/LIGHT RAIL/STREETCAR PLAN
Every transit system worth its salt needs an "icon map" that should be plastered everywhere in the system, like pictures of Chairman Mao in China. My first attempt at such a map is the crudely drawn amateur graphics version shown above. You can get almost anywhere in this system from either the Charles Center or Lexington Market Metro Stations, and anywhere at all from one station or the other.
This system relies on the heavy rail Metro Green Line and the almost-heavy rail Red Line to do all the heavy lifting. The Blue and Orange lines are the existing quasi-regional light rail lines.
The Yellow, Brown , Purple and Gray lines are for streetcars, which serve all inner city destinations in a manner that is in harmony with their streetscapes, but which fully connect to the system inside the two major downtown Metro subway stations.
The key to a successful transit system is downtown connectivity, and the key to this connectivity is a comprehensive downtown transit hub built into the "Down Under" parking garage.
The "Down Under" parking garage puts the comprehensive downtown transit hub right where it should be - underneath the middle of downtown, where it can connect to everything. It also allows the portals that bring the transit lines from underground up to the surface to be located as close to the hub as possible.
This maximizes the advantages of an underground transit hub which serves the existing Metro, while allowing the maximum amount of the rail transit system to be built on the urban surface. This saves a huge amount of money on tunneling, while linking the transit lines as intimitely as possible with the surface street activities.
The portals would be located at:
1. South, East and West: Lombard at Hanover Street - just south of Charles Center at an existing parking garage entrance.
2. West: MLK Boulevard at the Franklin-Mulberry Expressway - just west of downtown where it would connect directly to the 16 block Franklin-Mulberry "Edge City" development.
3. North: St. Paul Street near Saratoga - built into a southern extension of the wall that defines Preston Gardens.
To make this comprehensive "Down Under" transit hub as fully functional as possible, it simply needs to be built as part of a relatively inexpensive rail transit system which includes:
1. A short Red Line westward through the Franklin-Mulberry corridor to the existing West MARC Station - approximately two miles.
2. A short Green Line Metro extension east of Hopkins Hospital to a new East MARC Station - approximately two miles.
3. A streetcar system that serves the inner city in all directions -
(a) northward toward Charles Village and possibly Northwood/Morgan State
(b) southward toward Federal Hill and possibly Port Covington
(c) eastward toward Fells Point and possibly Canton
(d) westward toward the Mount Clare B&O Museum and possibly Montgomery Park.
4. New bus transit hubs located at three key locations:
(a) West MARC Station - Franklin at Pulaski Street
(b) East MARC Station - Edison Highway at Monument Street
(c) Lexington Market Metro Station - Eutaw at Saratoga Street
Many intermediate destinations would also be served as well as possible by this arrangement, on the street surfaces and not underground. These most notably include the Inner Harbor along the sections of both Pratt and Light Streets which are to be rebuilt in a manner which is optimum for streetcars, as well as Harbor East, Camden Station and Penn Station.
There are several other keys to making this plan work in the most flexible possible manner: The Red Line should be built to work with either light rail or streetcar vehicles between Downtown and the West MARC station. South of Downtown, the Red Line should then connect to the existing central light rail line toward Camden Station and beyond.
It may also be worthwhile to make the streetcars and the central light rail line compatible, at least in key inner city locations.
Both of the downtown hubs under this plan, at Charles Center and Lexington Market, would provide direct connections between the Metro, light rail and streetcar systems. The Lexington Market hub would also connect directly to the bus system. The Metro would provide connections to the west and east MARC stations, while the light rail and streetcar lines would connect to the Camden and Penn MARC Stations.
CHARLES CENTER "DOWN UNDER" RAIL TRANSIT HUB
This hub would operate on two levels crossing at a right angle, connected by escalators, similarly to the way most modern downtown rail transit terminals operate, such as MetroCenter, Gallery Place and L'Enfant Plaza in Washington DC.
The existing Metro line running east-west under Baltimore Street would be on one level. The other level would incorporate both the light rail Red Line and the various streetcar lines running north-south approximately under what was once Hanover Street in the "Down Under" garage.
The light rail Red Line would extend through this station from under Lexington Street to the west to the Lombard/Hanover portal to the south.
The streetcar lines would make the same connections as the Red Line, and would also run eastward under Lexington Street to the Preston Gardens portal where it would proceed northward along St. Paul Street.
LEXINGTON MARKET RAIL/BUS TRANSIT HUB
The Red Line, which would accommodate both light rail and streetcars, would be built under Lexington Street through the Lexington Market Rail/Bus Transit Hub. The east end of the station would be under the intersection of Howard Street, and would incorporate escalators up to the surface of Howard Street to connect directly to the existing central light rail line.
Accommodations should also be made for a future connection to the Howard Street CSX tunnel, in the event that this freight tunnel is ever to converted to passenger use.
The west end of the new Red Line station would be under Eutaw Street for a connection to the existing Lexington Market Metro Station, either at the mezzanine level of that station, or via a new escalator linkage.
The north end of the existing Metro station, along Eutaw between Saratoga and Mulberry Streets, would be a new bus transit terminal. This would be on State-owned land immediately adjacent to the existing Metro escalators. The Red Line station under Lexington would be accessible via the existing mezzanine under Eutaw. Thus, the Lexington Market Rail/Bus Transit Hub would be shaped like an "L" under Eutaw Street (Metro) and Lexington Street (Red Line). The top (north end) of the "L" would be the bus terminal, linking directly to the existing Metro. The bottom (south end) of the "L" would be the Red Line, linking directly to the existing Howard Street light rail line.
A SAMPLE OPERATING PLAN
To illustrate the high degree of connectivity which this plan offers, here is one of the many ways that such a system could be operated.
I have not included the extension of the Red Line westward from the West MARC Station to Social Security, because I have not seen a way in which it can really work. (I don't like to discuss ideas unless I believe they are do-able). When a viable Red Line plan for Edmondson Avenue and Cooks Lane, or anywhere else, is presented by the MTA or whomever, I will jump on board.
In any event, a westward Red Line extension to Security can be built as a later stage.
For similar reasons, an eastward Green Line Metro extension to Middle River is also possible, but not shown here.
However, an additional Green Line Metro extension southeastward along the Haven Street corridor to Bayview, Highlandtown, Greektown, Brewers Hill and Canton Crossing is included, because it appears to be inexpensive and emminently feasible as the first subsequent extension to the basic plan.
The sample operating plan is as follows. Not all stations are listed.
METRO GREEN LINE
Lexington Market - bus terminal - transfer to Red, Purple, Blue and Orange Lines
Charles Center - transfer to Red, Purple, Yellow and Brown Lines
East MARC Station - bus terminal
LIGHT RAIL RED LINE
Camden Station - MARC - transfer to Blue and Orange Lines
Convention Center - transfer to Gray and Brown Lines
Charles Center - transfer to Green, Purple, Brown and Yellow Lines
Lexington Market - bus terminal and transfer to Green, Blue and Orange Lines
West MARC Station - bus terminal
LIGHT RAIL BLUE LINE
Camden Station - MARC - transfer to Orange and Red Lines
Lexington Market - bus terminal and transfer to Green, Red, Orange and Purple Lines
University of Baltimore
LIGHT RAIL ORANGE LINE
Camden Station - MARC - transfer to Red and Blue Lines
Lexington Market - bus terminal and transfer to Red, Green, Blue and Purple Lines
University of Baltimore
Penn Station - MARC - transfer to Brown and Yellow Lines
STREETCAR YELLOW LINE
Penn Station - MARC - transfer to Orange Line
Charles Center - transfer to Green, Red, Brown and Purple Lines
Inner Harbor/Light Street
STREETCAR PURPLE LINE
West MARC - bus terminal
Lexington Market - bus terminal and transfer to Green, Red, Blue and Orange Lines
Charles Center - transfer to Green, Red, Brown and Yellow Lines
Inner Harbor/Pratt Street
STREETCAR GRAY LINE
University of Maryland
Camden Yards - transfer to Red, Blue and Orange Lines
Inner Harbor/Pratt Street - transfer to Purple and Yellow Lines
STREETCAR BROWN LINE
Penn Station - MARC - transfer to Orange Line
Charles Center - transfer to Green, Red, Yellow and Purple Line
Convention Center - transfer to Red, Orange, Gray and Blue Line
University of Maryland
And I think I've run out of colors so I'll quit now...