I often joke with my wife that she is the only good thing to come out of Baltimore and I think she’s finally starting to believe me.
I have written extensively about the collapse of Baltimore; it’s a small city with a population of roughly 614,664 people. The city’s local Government is plagued by corruption and fiscal mismanagement led by Democratic ringleader Catherine Pugh. To make matters worse, the Baltimore’s Police Department is littered with officers who have no regard for the law but are good at breaking it, and this is just scratching the surface. Violent crime is skyrocketing, jobs are disappearing, opioids and heroin have flooded the city, public schools have NO HEAT, and now the public rail system that 40,000 daily riders depend on will be closed for one month according to this Baltimore Sun report:
Baltimore’s entire Metro SubwayLink system will remain closed for a month, the Maryland Transit Administration announced Sunday, after safety inspections showed sections of track needed emergency repairs that couldn’t wait until this summer.
Gov. Larry Hogan has set aside $2.2 million in emergency funding to run free coach buses for passengers along the subway’s route in addition to the normal MTA bus routes, the MTA said Sunday.
The MTA shut the system down on Friday for a safety evaluation after discovering an urgent need for repairs on sections of the aboveground northwest leg of the system between the Owings Mills and West Cold Spring stations. Sunday’s decision expanded the closing to the entire system, which has 14 stations and more than 40,000 riders on a typical weekday.
“While I understand the inconvenience, safety will always be our top priority,” MTA CEO Kevin Quinn said Sunday. “We don’t take any risks with our riders.”
The track needed to be replaced sooner than the scheduled replacement this summer, Quinn said.
Barakat Muhammad, 49, doubted whether buses can effectively replace the subway routes. “Even if you get 20 buses,” he said, the heavy traffic on roadways would mean they wouldn’t run as fast as the subway.
The barbershop owner, who lives in East Baltimore and takes the subway six days a week, was irritated by a lack of communication from the Maryland Department of Transportation on the closure.
“They should have gave people warning,” he said. The first day, he said, “everyone was in a frenzy,” trying to figure out alternate means of transportation.
Sitting on a bench downtown, Elizabeth Augustusel, 56, was stoic about the closure. “We just have to be patient,” she said. While the system was closed, she would take the bus.
“Repairs need to be repaired. I know they’re not going to endanger our lives.”
When Ivan Pratt, 28, couldn’t take the Metro, he decided to walk more than an hour from Reisterstown Road Plaza to the McDonald’s in downtown Baltimore, where he was hanging out with friends Sunday evening. When he learned that the closure had extended to an entire month, he dropped his head into his hands. How would he get his daughter to day care? he wondered.
Quinn declined to describe the problems on the deteriorating tracks, but said they were not rusted or cracked. He referred to them as having undergone “normal wear and tear.” It’s not yet clear how much the repairs will cost.
“The part that’s above ground, on the elevated sections, it’s exposed completely to the elements, and it has been for 36 years,” Quinn said. “There’s 36 years of wear and tear on it.”
Quinn told The Baltimore Sun on Friday that there are no signs that past neglect caused the current problems.
As the rain started up again, Shannon Moke, 21, began walking down the steps to the Lexington Market stop when she saw the gate pulled down, a sign saying the stop was closed. The light rail and subway are usually more consistent than the buses, which are often delayed, Moke said.
To Moke, the monthlong closure was just more evidence that the city doesn’t prioritize the needs of the people who live in it.
“This city got all this money for hotels,” she said, but not enough to ensure the transportation can run well. Riders should boycott, she said. For now, she said, she’ll ask a friend for a ride.