Bumper to bumper: Train riders give MARC schedule mixed reviews -- Gazette.Net


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Walking through the Gaithersburg station Friday afternoon, Thomas Addler breathed a sigh of relief; MARC is keeping his train running and on time.

The accountant said he’d been worried about changes debated by the Maryland Transit Administration in December on his Brunswick Line, which runs from Martinsburg, W.Va., stopping 19 times before reaching its terminal in Washington, D.C.

“You take the same trains every day and you end up relying on it,” said Addler of Germantown. ”I didn’t know what to think when I heard they were changing [the schedule].”

In what can be seen as a reversal of its previous suggestion, the MTA — which oversees the weekday commuter rail service — announced this week a proposed schedule that will add more stops in Montgomery County, particularly in stations in Kensington, Boyds, and Washington Grove.

Gaithersburg’s Lorri Washington said her main concern as a MARC rider is having the trains stay on schedule, the motivation behind the previously proposed schedule changes.

“Run on time, that’s what it should do,” she said.

In the winter, the MTA released a proposed schedule aimed at improving the on-time performance of MARC trains by cutting stops at smaller stations in Montgomery County. It decided to scrap the move in January after riders opposed it, MTA spokesman Terry Owens said Wednesday.

MTA management held three public meetings with riders and compiled written suggestions from passengers to make the revisions.

Among the changes is the elimination of three stops in West Virginia for Train 877, an afternoon train. That service will be replaced by Train 875, which will make its final stop in Martinsburg at 4:15 p.m., 24 minutes earlier than it does now on Train 877.

A bus also will begin a non-stop run from Brunswick to Martinsburg, taking afternoon passengers from Train 873 and Train 883. Another will run to Harpers Ferry and Duffields from Brunswick for the same purpose.

The service cannot add more trains because CSX transportation, which owns the tracks on the Brunswick Line, has not agreed to allow more to run, Owens said. CSX runs freight on the tracks.

Brian Wright, a rider at the Kensington station Thursday, said he’d still like to hear about running more trains to make the service more like Metrorail, where trains typically run less than 20 minutes apart.

“If you miss one train, then you’re in trouble,” he said.

For a complete version of the new schedule, visit www.mta.maryland.gov.

The transit administration has scheduled three “Town Hall” meetings in May for riders hoping to comment directly to those who plan to implement the new schedule.

The Montgomery County meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. May 22 at the Montgomery County Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville.

aruoff@gazette.net