Maryland Transit Administration

Maryland Transit Administration
Maryland Transit Administration

MTA Maryland logo.svg
MTA Maryland Services.jpg

William Donald Schaefer Building.jpg
Locale Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit type Bus
Light rail
Heavy rail
Commuter rail
Number of lines Heavy rail: 1
Light rail: 3
Commuter rail: 3
Bus: 78 (80 January 2012)
Number of stations Heavy rail: 14
Light rail: 33
Commuter rail: 43[1]
Daily ridership 359,705 weekday average (2009)[2]
Began operation April 30, 1970
Operator(s) Maryland Department of Transportation
Number of vehicles Heavy Rail: 100
Light Rail: 53
Commuter rail: 175
Bus: 842
Mobility vans: 272
Mobility sedans: 124 (2009)[1]
Track gauge 4 ft 8½ in (1,435 mm)

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is a state-operated mass transit administration in Maryland, and is part of the Maryland Department of Transportation. It is better known as MTA Maryland to avoid confusion with other cities' transit agencies who share the initials MTA. The MTA operates a comprehensive transit system throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. There are 78 bus lines serving Baltimore's public transportation needs, along with other services that include the Light Rail, Metro Subway, and MARC Train. With nearly half the population of Baltimore residents lacking access to a car,[3] the MTA is an important part of the regional transit picture. The system has many connections to other transit agencies of Central Maryland: WMATA, Charm City Circulator, Howard Transit, Connect-A-Ride, Annapolis Transit, Rabbit Transit, Ride-On, and TransIT.



The MTA was originally known as the Baltimore Metropolitan Transit Authority, then the Mass Transit Administration before it changed to its current name. The MTA took over the operations of the old Baltimore Transit Company on April 30, 1970.[4]

Many of the routes of most of the agency's current bus lines are based on the original streetcars operated by the Baltimore Transit Company and its parent companies from the 1890s to the 1960s. All these routes were ultimately converted to rubber tire bus operations, and many of them were consolidated, extended into newly developed areas, or otherwise reconfigured to keep up with the ridership demands of the times.[4] Additional routes and extensions were added in later years to serve communities that were later developed, and to feed into Metro and Light Rail stations that were later built.

With the growth in popularity of the private automobile during the 20th century, streetcar and bus ridership declined, and the needs for public transportation changed. Mass transit in Baltimore and other cities shifted from a corporate operation to a tax-subsidized state-run service. The amount of service provided was greatly reduced, and some areas once served by streetcars are currently served by buses very minimally or not at all.[4] The demise of the Baltimore streetcar took place between the years of 1947 and 1963, as operators found buses to be low maintenance and more cost-efficient. As rails were demolished, Baltimore was no longer a streetcar city. As transit needs and trends changed, rail transit did return to the city, with the Metro Subway opening in 1983 and the Light Rail in 1992.[4]

Bus Services

Bus services operate throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area and other parts of the state. These include local bus routes 1 through 99, which serve areas of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County. Neighborhood shuttle routes 97 and 98 serve specific Baltimore City areas. QuickBus operating limited-stop service. Commuter, express, and intercounty connector bus lines, which also operate within other parts of the state, ranging from routes 104 through 995.

Local bus

Local bus lines are identified by a one- or two-digit number. There are currently 45 local bus routes throughout the urban and suburban area of Baltimore City.[5]


The MTA currently operates four limited-stop routes known as QuickBus, which are designated as routes qb40, qb46, qb47, and qb48.[5]

Neighborhood Shuttle Bug

The MTA has two neighborhood shuttle routes: The Mondawmin Shuttle Bug (Route 97) and the Hampden Shuttle Bug (Route 98). These routes can be identified by their distinctive brand colors and logos

Express bus

The MTA operates four express bus lines in the Baltimore area, which are the 104, 120, 150, and 160.[6]

Commuter bus

MTA Maryland MCI D4500CTH #176

Independent bus companies operate 21 commuter bus routes in the Washington D.C and Baltimore regions. Baltimore-bound buses are numbered in the 300 and 400 range. Washington-bound buses are numbered in the 900 range.[7]

Intercounty Connector bus

Buses travelling on MD 200 are numbered in the 200 range. Routes 201 and 202 connecting from Gaithersburg, Maryland to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and DoD/Fort Meade.[8]

Rail Services

Budd built Universal Transit Vehicle as seen on the Baltimore Metro departing the Milford Mill Station

Heavy rail (Metro Subway)

This system operates elevated and underground from a corporate and shopping complex in Owings Mills in Baltimore County into the heart of Downtown Baltimore City's business, shopping and sightseeing districts to the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medical Center Complex. The 15.5-mile (24.94 km) northwest-southeastbound route includes 14 station stops. Its route through the densest parts of the city is underground, from Hopkins Hospital to a portal west of Mondawmin station, where it immediately rises to an elevated concrete right of way parallel to Wabash Avenue practically at the city line. Entering Baltimore County, the line goes to surface, passing through and virtually dividing communities along the way to commuter based stops at Milford Mill Rd.(Pikesville), and Old Court Rd.(Pikesville). Leaving Old Court, the tracks pass underneath the I-695/795 interchange, and travel the median of 795 till their end at Owings Mills (Painter's Mill Rd.) This station is the centerpiece of a huge project intending to urbanize that immediate area, with a Baltimore County Public Library branch, and classroom space for the Community College of Baltimore County under construction. Residential and commercial development is planned to follow the completion of the education buildings. There are efforts underway to extend the line northeast through the city with phase 1 to Morgan State University, and phase 2 beyond the city limits to the White Marsh Town Center area. If this comes to fruit, the line will be renamed the Green Line, coordinating with the new Red Line (east-west Woodlawn/Security-Hopkins Bayview Hosp.) that's in its preliminary engineering stage. Funding for the Green Line extension is still years from being secured, and includes an option to extend it as light rail or BRT from Johns Hopkins Hosp.

An ABB built 2-car light rail at Covention Center/ Pratt Street Stop

Light rail

This service travels from a corporate, hotel, and shopping complex in Baltimore County’s Hunt Valley, through the suburbs north of Baltimore and northern Baltimore City and into the heart of downtown Baltimore's shopping, sightseeing, dining, and entertainment districts, past the harbor and through southern Baltimore City and finally to BWI Marshall Airport and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County. There is also a spur to Amtrak’s Baltimore Penn Station.

The Light Rail operates at grade for the most part, though it travels on bridges crossing several bodies of water. There are 33 station stops along the 30.0-mile (48.28 km) system. Although much of the line was single-tracked when it was built, the MTA completed a double-tracking project in early 2006, and now only a few short single-track sections remain.

MARC commuter train at Brunswick station

Commuter rail (MARC)

This service operates three lines that provide commuter rail service to riders out of and into Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Frederick, Perryville, and Martinsburg, WV, as well as several other locations in between.

Mobility Services


The MTA began offering paratransit service for persons with disabilities in 1978 when it took over a mobility service in Baltimore previously operated by Lutheran Family Services.[9] This mobility service is a "non-fixed route" service and consists of a fleet of specially converted Ford E-Series vans and Ford Crown Victorias. Some service is contracted out to MV Transportation and Veolia Transportation, but all vehicles are owned by MTA.

MTA Maryland Ford E-Series van used for Mobility services.

Taxi Access

A sub-service of the Paratransit program is MTA's Taxi Access program, designed with technology made by a company called MJM Management. The Taxi Access program ensures that any sufficiently physically disabled person that consistently requires Paratransit service can also qualify for the Taxi Access program. The Taxi Access program allows the bearer of a Taxi Access card to take a taxicab door-to-door within the limits of anywhere MTA Paratransit vans go; i.e. within 1/3 of a mile of an MTA public transit stop of any kind. Once the trip is complete, total out-of-pocket cost for the customer is $3.00, and the MTA picks up the rest of the price of the fare, "paying" it to the driver in the form of a voucher that s/he later redeems at his/her cab company headquarters.[10]

Proposed Services

Previously the MTA has studied a maglev train between Baltimore and Washington, D.C;[11] this project now appears inactive as the Pittsburgh-Harrisburg area was chosen by the FedDOT in early 2009.

Currently the MTA is studying a number of proposed services, which includes the Red Line (a proposed east–west light rail or bus rapid transit line that would pass from Woodlawn pass near Patterson Park) to Johns Hopkins Bayview Med. Ctr. and the Green Line (a proposed north–south line that would extend from the Johns Hopkins Hospital into northeast Baltimore, possibly as an extension of the Metro Subway). As of summer 2011, the Red Line has received federal permission to enter preliminary engineering. Efforts to fund both lines continue, with overall priority going to the Red Line as of now.

Outside of Baltimore the MTA is also studying the Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton, and the Corridor Cities Transitway between Gaithersburg and Clarksburg. Both studies are evaluating bus rapid transit and light rail options.


These are the current fare prices for MTA buses, Light Rail, and Metro Subway travel.[12] There is a separate fare structure for MARC Train services.

<<< Single-Trip fare >>>
Service Regular fare Reduced fare
Neighborhood Shuttle $1.00 $0.50
Local bus, QuickBus, Light Rail, Metro Subway $1.60 $0.55
Express bus $2.00 $0.95
Commuter bus varies by destination varies by destination
Inter-County Connector bus $7.00 -
MARC train varies by destination varies by destination
<<< Round-Trip fare >>>
Service Regular fare Reduced fare
Local bus, QuickBus, Neighborhood Shuttle, Light Rail, Metro Subway $3.20 $1.60
Express bus $3.60 $2.00
Commuter bus varies by destination varies by destination
Inter-County Connector bus varies by destination varies by destination
MARC train varies by destination varies by destination
<<< Day Pass fare >>>
Service Regular fare Reduced fare
Local bus, QuickBus, Neighborhood Shuttle, Light Rail, Metro Subway $3.50 $1.20
Express bus $3.90 $1.60
Commuter bus varies by destination varies by destination
Inter-County Connector bus varies by destination varies by destination
MARC train varies by destination varies by destination
<<< Weekly Pass fare >>>
Service Regular fare Reduced fare
Local bus, QuickBus, Neighborhood Shuttle, Light Rail, Metro Subway $16.50 -
Express bus $16.50 -
Commuter bus varies by destination varies by destination
Inter-County Connector bus varies by destination varies by destination
MARC train varies by destination varies by destination
<<< Monthly Pass fare >>>
Service Regular fare Reduced fare
Local bus, QuickBus, Neighborhood Shuttle, Light Rail, Metro Subway $64.00 $16.50
Express bus $80.00 $16.90
Commuter bus varies by destination varies by destination
Inter-County Connector bus varies by destination varies by destination
MARC train varies by destination varies by destination
  • Note: Express bus fare is $0.40 plus from base fare on Local bus, Neighborhood Shuttle, Light Rail, and Metro Subway services.
<<< Paratransit >>>
Type Cost (USD)
One-Way $1.85
  • Note: People who qualify for paratransit services can use all MTA rail and bus services free of charge.

Fare collection methods

Prior to the summer of 2005, the MTA used an older fare collection system. Day passes purchased on buses were printed out by a separate machine than the bus fareboxes. It was possible to alter these passes so that they could used on other days, and to sell them to other passengers, as well as make duplicate passes and sell them to others for a cheaper price than the MTA's official fares. This was despite the fact that they were officially non-transferable.

The MTA has since installed new fareboxes on all of its buses that issue daily passes with magnetic strips; new ticket vending machines at Light Rail and Metro Subway stations issue identical passes including the weekly and monthly passes. Weekly and monthly passes are not sold on buses.[13]

The newer day passes can only be used on the appropriate day because the machine encodes the date and expiration time in the magnetic strip, which is read when swiped through the magnetic reader. Swiping the pass also sets a time waiting period on reuse so the pass cannot be immediately handed to a different passenger and used for free boarding. This also makes it difficult for passengers to use counterfeit passes when boarding the bus, Light Rail, and Metro Subway. The MTA continues to struggle with passengers who purchase day passes, use them, then resell them at a direct loss to the agency. State Employees who possess a Maryland State Employee ID card can ride MTA local bus, Light Rail, and the Metro Subway free of charge. Any state Employee with the ID card can get a continuation ticket to get through the gates on the Metro Subway. For the bus, they show the state employee ID card to the driver when boarding. On the Light Rail, they only have to show the ID card in the event of a fare inspection while other passengers show their tickets. MTA employees can also ride free of charge if they carry their MTA employee ID card. [14]

The MARC train service is preparing for the eventual integration with the regional SmarTrip smartcard-based fare system. The system will involve conductors using hand-held units to validate SmarTrip cards as well as the MTA's Maryland Transit Pass.

Maryland transit pass

The MTA plans to begin selling smart cards under the name CharmCard. These will be similar to, and compatible with, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority's regional smart card system, the SmarTrip card.[15]

When the CharmCard system is fully implemented, it will be used not only on Maryland Transit Administration transit services, but will also be able to be used in Washington D.C. on all WMATA buses, the Washington Metro and on most local bus services in Northern Virginia. Likewise, the WMATA SmarTrip card will be accepted by the fareboxes used by the MTA.[16]

Special programs

Baltimore City Public School System

An agreement between the Baltimore City Public School System and the Maryland Transit Administration provides eligible BCPSS students (usually students who live outside a predetermined area surrounding the school) during a school year with a color-coded booklet of dated tickets each month and an identification card. The tickets allow students to ride on MTA buses, light rail, and subway free going to and from school. The farebox is able to issue magnetic transfers to ticket holders who must use more than one bus. They're valid for 90 minutes of unlimited travel at the driver's discretion.[17]

MTA college pass

The Maryland Transit Administration has a special program set up with 24 Baltimore area colleges and universities which allows college students who are enrolled in a minimum of 6 hours per week can receive a monthly pass for $39.00.[18]

Participating colleges

Maryland public transit laws

Section 7-705 of the Maryland Transportation article (Annotated Code of Maryland) enumerates a list of acts specifically prohibited on public transit vehicles, with penalties of fines and possible jail terms for violations. In addition to the enumerated rules of behavior, Section 7-705 also allows the MTA to enforce local government laws on public transit vehicles. Many of these rules are conspicuously posted on transit vehicles, bus stops and rail platforms.

External links


  1. ^ a b 2009 Annual Report. Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2010-09-01
  2. ^ 2009 Annual Report, p. 20.
  3. ^ Dunn, Shannon. "SUSTAINABLE CITY, Shifting Gears: Safer Cycling in Baltimore". Urbanite Magazine. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d "A Concise History of Baltimore's Transit". Baltimore Transit Archives. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  5. ^ a b Bus Routes. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-08-30
  6. ^ Express Bus Routes. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-09-01
  7. ^ Commuter Bus Schedules & System Maps. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-09-01
  8. ^ [1]. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2011-10-01
  9. ^ "Maryland Transit Timeline" MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-09-28
  10. ^ Taxi Access II Service MTA Maryland pdf brochure, retrieved 2009-12-8
  11. ^ "Baltimore/Washington MagLev Project". MTA Maryland. December 2003. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  12. ^ "Current Fares". Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  13. ^ "Introducing New Fareboxes on MTA Buses". Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  14. ^ "Maryland Transit Administration adds fare inspectors to prevent freeloaders". Transit News. 2004-07-22. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  15. ^ "Maryland Transit Pass". Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  16. ^ GALE, ANDREW; IAN NEWBERG. "Maryland MTA: Growing the Nation’s First Statewide-to-Regional Smart Card System". Mass Transit Mag. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  17. ^ "BCPSS FAQs". Baltimore City Public School System Office of Student Placement. Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  18. ^ "MTA College Pass Program". UMBC. Archived from the original on 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 

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