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Living the Transit Lifestyle

August 18, 2015
Guy HendersonMichael Wiedecker has been with the MTA for decades, and has put his enthusiasm and drive into gear for the agency on a wide range of operational issues. It’s his latest position though, as MTA’s Director of Operations Training, that not only has him fired up about his career, but has other transit agencies seeking out MTA’s advice regarding transportation operations training. As director, Mike made it his mission to learn about the KirkpatrickModel, an influential approach to evaluating training that was first offered as the subject of Donald Kirkpatrick's Ph.D. dissertation... more
August 12, 2015
Guy HendersonOnri Hector has earned his right to celebrate his membership in the MTA Bus Operator graduating class of July 2015. Not everyone made the cut out of the 30-or-so trainees who started the program, and that’s by design. Only those who were truly dedicated to meeting the challenge of being a professional bus operator got to celebrate their achievement on June 30th. For starters, classes began at 6 a.m. sharp every day for the duration of the ten-week training program. Showing up on time was the first big test of the trainees, who were encouraged to arrive up to a half-hour early... more
August 5, 2015
/*-->*/ Baltimore Transit Company’s first specially-painted streetcar rolled into revenue service on February 17, 1946. Jon Berle In the 1940s, MTA's predecessor, the Baltimore Transit Company (BTC), began to use their buses and rail vehicles in a big way to publicize campaigns with designs that were all hand-lettered and painted.  The three-step process first required the transfer of the designs from a small sketch to large paper which was then adhered to the bus or streetcar. Then a tool similar to a cowboy’s spur was rolled across the designs and letters, leaving small holes.... more
July 29, 2015
Jon Berle In 1947 an old Baltimore Transit Company (BTC) “horse car” was one of the most popular exhibits at a show at the Fifth Regiment Armory. Kids and adults alike flocked aboard the old John Stephenson Company car just to see how folks in the Gay ‘90s traveled around Baltimore. The car weighed 4,000 pounds and was first used by Baltimore City Passenger Railway, a company that had been in business since 1859. On December 17 of the following year, they were the first rail company in Baltimore to offer all-night cars. The experiment ended, however, after just a short, one-week trial. On... more
July 28, 2015
Guy Henderson There are lots of moving parts to the MTA, and we’re not just talking about the vehicles. Maintenance, scheduling, assuring that your bus or rail vehicle shows up on time, and so on. Then there are the parts that concern our customers directly. Safety is number one, of course, both on and around MTA vehicles and property, as well as making it easy and convenient to pay your fare and board and feel comfortable for the length of your ride. Put all those factors (and more) together and you have what’s called the “transit passenger experience.” MTA aims to make every aspect of the... more
July 23, 2015
Jon Berle United Railways and Electric Company (UR&E) ran Baltimore’s streetcars from 1899 to 1935. On June 30 of that year UR&E went out of receivership and began operating as the Baltimore Transit Company (BTC), the Maryland Transit Administration's direct predecessor. UR&E used electricity to run their trolleys, much the same as MTA does today to run Metro Subway and Light Rail. In fact, they used so much electricity that they had power stations all over the city - on Harford Road above North Avenue, on Druid Hill Avenue, Nunnery Lane, Eastern Avenue and on West Lombard Street... more
July 21, 2015
Guy HendersonIt’s a hair dryer left behind on MTA Local Bus #13, and it’s one of the more unusual finds in our Lost & Found bins. (But it’s not the most unusual. You’ll have to read to the end for that.) Maybe the owner was distracted by the rush of exiting. Or more likely – these days – s/he just couldn’t wait to finish that text and forgot about everything else. At any particular time, there are about 300 items that have been turned in by our caring passengers or alert operators as they make a final sweep at the end of their run. Cleaning crews on all our modes do their part as well in... more
July 16, 2015
Jon BerleThis coming Monday, July 20th marks the 28th anniversary of the opening of the Metro Subway “Section B” that included new stations at Milford Mill, Old Court and Owings Mills. The popular heavy rail continues to beat out the heavy beltway traffic, making the 14-mile commute from Owings Mills to Charles Center in just 25 minutes. This second Metro extension is six miles long (four miles in the median of the I-795 Northwest Expressway) with three at-grade stations. Construction began in 1982, a year before the first eight-mile section of the Metro opened. Milford Mill Station is... more
July 9, 2015
Jon Berle The MTA Day Pass had its origins with the Baltimore Transit Company (BTC) nearly 60 years ago. Beginning July 1, 1956, and on all Sundays and holidays through September 3, 1956, “Riding Permits” were sold on all BTC vehicles. Purchase of the permit for 50 cents entitled the bearer to use it on the day purchased for an unlimited number of rides within the initial fare zone. The experiment was an effort to stimulate interest in riding public transit. An MTA retiree and Baltimore native who also worked for BTC wryly commented at the time that “parents bought the permit for kids to... more
July 6, 2015
Jon BerleYou'd have to go back to the 1970s to find gasoline prices per gallon at anything close to the number above. Following the oil embargo in the late 70s and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, gasoline hovered around a dollar a gallon. At the beginning of the 21st century it started to rise dramatically – and has really skyrocketed in the last ten years. Now more than ever, the cost of gas has become a crucial concern to almost everyone’s inflation-stressed budget. Today’s high cost of gas - although about a dollar less per gallon than last summer - is still a budget-breaker that... more