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Baltimore City to launch a shuttle service in July 2009.


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Otakon 2009 could get interesting because Baltimore City has plans to launch a free shuttle service in July 2009 that will service downtown, the BCC, Harbor East, and other locations including the restaurants and shops on Charles Street. Here's a map of the route: http://www.baltimoresun.com/media/alternat...79-15130050.gif

Long time Otakon attendees may remember from Otakon 2003-2004 that downtown Baltimore had a shuttle service known as the Downtown Area Shuttle or DASH which shut down in 2005 due to a state grant drying up, however this shuttle service will be funded via a parking tax increase.

Here's part of the article which also mentions that BACVA supports this shuttle service due to complaints from conventiongoers about the walk to Charles Street restaurants and shops being "arduous."

Link: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal...0,7343799.story

September 16, 2008

The Baltimore City Council voted yesterday to increase the parking tax and use the expected $4.5 million in revenue to operate a fleet of shuttle buses to ferry people around downtown neighborhoods.

Trips in the hybrid shuttles would be free to passengers, with pickups every 10 minutes along three routes. The service is expected to begin in July 2009. Mayor Sheila Dixon's administration proposed the legislation.

The tax increase, which takes effect in December, will likely mean a 50-cent increase in the cost of daily parking, and a $5 to $6 rise in monthly parking costs, city officials estimate.

Transportation officials proposed three routes: a Red Line that goes from the B&O Railroad Museum through downtown to the east side, a Yellow Line that runs from the Maryland Science Center up Charles Street to Penn Station, and a Green Line that connects City Hall to Johns Hopkins Hospital via Fells Point.

The idea is to link the Inner Harbor to outlying parking garages, and Metro and light rail stops, Robinson said. The exact routes and number of stops have not been determined.

The measure garnered support from groups such as East Baltimore Development Inc. and the Charles Street Development Corp., which believe the option will bring more consumers to their neighborhoods. Supporters also include the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, which has said that conventiongoers have complained that a walk to Charles Street shops and restaurants can be arduous.

A similar system called the Downtown Area Shuttle, or DASH, operated from 2002 until 2005, when state grant money expired. The new system will be entirely funded by the tax increase and will not be dependent on state funds.

The brunt of the tax increase will be felt by commuters and visitors who make up roughly 80 percent of those parking in garages, according to figures. The city levies a complicated two-tiered tax system on parkers - monthly parkers pay a flat $15 charge and daily parkers pay a 12 percent tax on each transaction. Under the new system, everyone will pay a 16 percent tax on parking.

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I can imagine all the "business-suits" staring at the various cosplayers going crazy on the buses.

Which may end up getting the shuttle idea shut down...perhaps... D:

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I hope this shuttle bus service will be up and running by Otakon 2009. I would use it to check out Harbor East and the restaurants and shops that are on Charles Street that are pretty far away from the Baltimore Convention Center.

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I hope this is up and running by Otakon '09 as well!! It would be terrific for exploring more of Baltimore than just the Inner Harbor district . As well as allowing people who want to drive into the city an opprotunity to park in one of the outlying (CHEAPER) parking garages, perhaps even stay in one of the outlying, hotels and then easily be able to get to the Inner Harbor each day (without having to pay for a taxi!!). Now I'm even more excited about next year :)

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I only live like 5 miles from the BCC but I do agree I like the idea. walking OUT the door of the BCC is long enough then walk all the way to resturant is tiring then walk all the back thats too much exercise!

But since they have this its awsome and free I like.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some good news I heard yesterday. There are reports that plans for the shuttle service are moving forward, and acc'd to schedule, the buses will be rolling out on July 1 of 2009.

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  • 7 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
Latest update on THIS end: service starts July 27th.

Sorry, guys. As with the Hilton last year, you're just gonna have to wait until next year.

Now they're saying September...

September is also being reported on a Baltimore area transit forum that I'm a member of, due to the bus manufacturer having issues:

Link: http://monumentalcity.net/phpBB/viewtopic....ec84cd3158cb2ac (must be a member to view the thread)

I'm sure we've all been delirious with excitement about the pending latest incarnation of the Downtowner, DASH, etc. the newly christened "Charm City Circulator". http://www.yournameyourride.com/

The bus builder is Design Line, originally of New Zealand but now based in Charlotte. Here's their press release:

http://www.designlineinternational.com/news.cfm?story=34557

Baltimore's big challenge will not only be ridership (IMO the numbers are optimistic at best) but will the buses survive Balto's notoriously rough streets. The SLF's got destroyed (Both MTA's & DASH, the previous downtown shuttles) in short order and the MTA's 3 Optima's aren't faring much better. Low floors and short wheelbases do not mix well here.

Mayor Dixon believes the Charm City Circulator can be as successful as the DC Circulator attracting downtown parkers and tourists alike. The previous DASH operation, funded by state and federal grants, ran empty almost all the time with one route being cancelled within a few months. As usual in Balto. advertising and promotion were afterthoughts with most folks clueless about the DASH service. Plus it was focused exclusively on office workers, encouraging them to park at outlying garages and parking lots instead of using the closer garages where many of them parked free or with a discount from their job.

The service was to begin in July but Design Line is reportedly having assembly line issues (lack of parts) that will delay start-up to September at the earliest. What type of and how much promotion and advertising is being planned is unknown but to date there have only been 3 very short newspaper articles on the service, including one that was only five sentences.

Despite my natural pessimism I want this to succeed but.....we'll see.

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