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MTA and The Sun Are Still Wrong About MARC and Bikes

December 28, 2009

The Baltimore Sun‘s Getting There blog posted a response from the Maryland Transit Authority to all the hullabaloo about bikes not being allowed on MARC trains generated by a Greater Greater Washington post a couple of weeks ago. No surprise, but it’s not exactly satisfying.

The MTA’s Henry M. Kay notes in the Sun post that MARC’s Penn line is the fastest commuter railway in the nation. But it’s also worth noting that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority‘s regional trains, which do allow bikes, hit a top speed of at least 100 MPH, nipping at MARC’s 100-plus-MPH heels. In any case, the solution MTA studied was removing two rows of seats for bike stowage—which, heavens, would take away seating for four passengers. Without explanation, Kay says the two rows would be per car, but it only seems necessary to have perhaps two or so cars per train with bike capacity, as do many other commuter rail systems in the country.

Kay is really only explaining Penn Line rush hour trains, however, in his response. And, again, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that allowing bikes on Penn Line rush hour trains is a good idea. What about non-rush hour trains when rows of seats are sitting empty, or far lower-speed and lower-capacity Camden and Frederick line trains? In fact, just allowing bikes on those lines seems an easy stopgap solution—and neither the MTA nor Getting There columnist/blogger Michael Dresser have come up with a reason, good or not, for not allowing them on those trains. One suspects there just isn’t one. As I mentioned before, bicycles are a rapidly growing part of commuting habits and, sorry, buying a second bike, transporting it somehow to your destination, and stowing it there full-time is not a solution.

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