GGW's breakfast links yesterday had a troubling article at the bottom. The Central Maryland Transit Alliance wants to prioritize extending Baltimore's Yellow Line light rail to Columbia over extending the Green Line subway to White Marsh. I can't even begin to express how dumb of an idea this is.
The Green Line extension will hit developed areas in a large city with a burgeoning centralized train system in place. This is smart. The Yellow Line extension will connect Columbia to downtown Baltimore on a very long, very circuitous route that by-passes Fort Meade, the largest employment center in the state of Maryland.
Baltimore City needs transit connections. It needs an expanded system. It needs a centralized system. A Yellow Line extension would bolster businesses in Columbia and Towson. These are decentralized locations. A Green Line extension would bolster more centralized business districts like the Belair Road and Harford Road corridors. These are centralized areas. Baltimore has been decentralizing for fifty years, and it's not working.
From Columbia, the Yellow Line would take 42 minutes to get to BWI Airport, and then another 27 to get to downtown Baltimore. An hour and nine minutes to get from Columbia to Baltimore. The northern section of the Yellow Line is actually a good idea, connecting several colleges along a main thoroughfare through the city proper. But the southern portion is as circuitous and useless as the current plan for the CCT in Gaithersburg.
CMTA, if you want light rail connecting Columbia to the city, why not push for the US-29 light rail project that was once promised to run from Silver Spring to Columbia? A direct route to the city, not a circuitous one, that hits several established communities along the way is what Central Maryland Transit Alliance ought to be seeking. I don't know how long Dan Reed's alignment (linked above) would take to get from Columbia to downtown DC, but I bet it's faster than 69 minutes.
And if Maryland does decide to run light rail further away from Baltimore, can you at least make some effort to hit the 50,000+ job center at Fort Meade before it is completely choking the region with traffic? I bet you a rail right-of-way that a lot of those employees live in Columbia.