Bus Rapid Transit System For the Eastern Shore of Maryland
An improved map
The Eastern Shore of Maryland has a special place in my heart. I graduated from Washington College in 2015 and then lived in Chestertown until 2017. When Ron dropped an article in Greater Bethesda yesterday about transit on the Eastern Shore, I was intrigued. One of the downsides of living of Chestertown was how isolating it was due to the lack of reliable public transit. Improving the connectivity between the shore and the surrounding urban areas would vastly improve the quality of life.
In his article, Ron makes a sound case for cross-bay and intra-shore transit. I think he is correct in his identification that bus rapid transit (BRT), not rail, is the best option for the shore. As nice as rail is, it has too many hangups that would prevent it from actually getting built. The WMATA Silver Line extension is still not open after four years of delays.
An improved alignment proposal
The only thing that I disagree with Ron on is the map that he proposed. To me, a good BRT alignment for the Eastern Shore needs to do three things:
Complement, not replace, existing transit
Connect urbanites to the Maryland and Delaware beaches
Increase intra-shore connectivity
Ron’s alignment is a good starting point, but it over-emphasizes 2 as a way of solving the Bay Bridge dilemma and it is much too lower-shore focused. Instead, I would propose this map as a more balanced way of providing transit options to the shore.
I would have four bus rapid transit lines. Orange from New Carrollton, MD to Lewes, DE extending WMATA’s Orange Line and MTA’s Purple Line to the beaches and has a direct transfer to MARC’s Penn Line as well as Amtrak. Green from Perryville, MD to Salisbury, MD extending MARC’s Penn Line to the beaches. Purple from Newark, DE to Ocean City, MD extending SEPTA’s Wilmington/Newark Line to the beaches. Finally, silver from Newark, DE to Salisbury, MD connecting the Maryland’s Eastern Shore together.
This would give residents of Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; and Philadelphia, PA access to the beach without owning or renting a car. You would just need to take your regional rail or transit network to the end of the line and then transfer to a bus. Residents of Sailsbury and the beaches would have access to all three metro areas without having to change busses.
There are two major downsides to my map. First, half of my proposal is in Delaware. WMATA is a trash fire partly due to the cross-border nature of its transit system. There is good reason for policymakers in Maryland and Delaware to be skeptical of another transit system like it. Second, MARC connects to Baltimore, but I would not call it part of Baltimore’s public transit system. The green line may have to be extended into Baltimore City or Baltimore County to make it work. With these in mind, I think this is a more workable version of a great idea.