DC-Baltimore Train Adds Weekend Service
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 01:10
The MARC Train Service, run by the Maryland Transit Administration, will begin offering weekend train service between Washington and Baltimore on Dec. 7.
This weekend service will expand the existing Penn Line, which connects Union Station to Baltimore Penn Station and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
According to MARC Riders Advisory Council Chair Rafi Guroian, tourists, BWI travelers and weekend workers have been demanding a weekend service, and the Penn Line was specifically targeted because of its greater ridership than that of the other two MARC train lines.
The weekend expansion of the Penn line, which is subsidized by Maryland taxes, was originally slated for 2008 but was cancelled at the last minute when Maryland had a budgetary crisis during the recession. A recent increase in Maryland’s state gas tax allowed MARC to expand the line.
“Weekend service on MARC has been discussed for decades, and it’s always been a matter of funding,” Guroian wrote in an email. “[It is] a very affordable option for getting to BWI Airport and Baltimore on weekends.”
According to MARC Riders Advisory Council Vice Chair Steve Chan, the expanded MARC service will be a “subcontract employment” with Amtrak because Amtrak owns the physical rail on the Penn line. As a result, MARC will pay Amtrak to help set up the expanded service, and employees working the expanded service will work for Amtrak.
Although Amtrak itself already runs a weekend service between the District and Baltimore, the company charges $16 to $60 per single trip, depending on the time and date of the trip and the class of the purchased seat.
On the other hand, the MARC weekend service would cost about $6 to BWI and $7 to Baltimore; students with a Student Advantage membership will also receive a discount.
Despite the cheaper prices, Chan said that not all riders would convert from Amtrak to MARC. MARC generally caters to commuters, while Amtrak is popular for longer trips.
MARC riders use a monthly pass, often leading a shortage of seats.
“It depends on where you want to go and on scheduling,” Chan said. “If you simply need to go from D.C. Union Station to BWI, MARC generally charges a lower price. But if your goal is to go from BWI [to] elsewhere, it’s quite possible that Amtrak can give you choices that you would prefer.”
The expanded weekend service could allow some students to fly in and out of Baltimore on the weekend, which is often less expensive than flying from D.C. airports.
The MARC train would also make Baltimore entertainment options more accessible to students. From Baltimore Penn Station, students can take light rail to Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. Camden Yards is also close to M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play. There is also a free Circulator bus from Penn Station to the Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry.
Guroian said the MTA is looking to add additional weekday service on the Camden line next year and hopes to expand the Brunswick line as well.