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MARC should (and must) allow bikes

Maryland's MARC commuter rail system is one of only two in the nation with a blanket ban on non-folding bicycles. The only other commuter rail line with a total bike ban is the South Shore Line between South Bend, Indiana and Chicago operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

Photo by richardmasoner on Flickr

The Maryland Transit Administration, which operates MARC, cites safety and a lack of storage areas as reasons for keeping bikes off of trains. However, the fact that 20 other commuter rail operators, many using the same rolling stock as MARC, allow bikes on board would suggest that MTA should be able to determine reasonable standards.

In fact, they have a legal obligation to do so, but have not. In the 2000 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 1260, which required that "The [Maryland Transit] Administration shall adopt regulations to facilitate the transportation of bicycles on board passenger railroad services." The reference to "passenger railroad services" indicates that the law is binding on the commuter services taken over from B&O and Amtrak by the state—MARC trains.

This bill became part of the Maryland Code of Regulations, Title: Transportation §7-902 (f). House Bill 1260 was passed by the House of Delegates and Senate without dissent in either chamber. The Governor signed it on May 18 and it became law over nine years ago on October 1, 2000. Yet even today, bikes are prohibited on all MARC trains.

At some level, this is understandable. After all, some MARC trains are already running standing room only. But then, so are trains on Metro North and the Long Island Railroad in New York and on Metra outside Chicago.

Nothing in Maryland law, including HB 1260, requires that MTA allow bikes on all trains. They could easily adopt a policy like Metra's, which prohibits bikes on any train terminating in Chicago during the morning rush or departing Chicago during the afternoon rush. SEPTA, in Philadelphia, bars bikes on all trains during rush hours, but allows them at all other times. Within our own region, VRE specifies certain trains where bikes are permissible, which gives cyclists some flexibility to take the train, even in rush hour.

And of course, we have to consider crowding out other users. But that's a factor on other systems as well. The Long Island Railroad limits the total number of bikes to 4 on each train (2 at each end of the train). Dallas' Trinity Railway Express doesn't put a specific limit on capacity, but bikes have to fit in the area reserved for wheelchair users. And if a person needing that space boards, bikers have to vacate it and wait for the next train.

Some operators take quite the opposite approach than does MTA. Caltrain, operating in the Bay Area, runs each train with a "Bike Car." This means that there is at a minimum room for 40 bikes. In Salt Lake City, the UTA is looking for ways to increase bike capacity, including removing seats. Neither of these agencies ban bikes during rush hours, either.

It would not be difficult for MARC to specify in the schedule certain trains which would allow bikes. They could bar bikes during rush hours, as Metro does, or allow them on reverse commute trains only. A more proactive approach would be to add a bike car to trains. Or short of that, allow two cyclists per car. Even two cyclists per train (VRE's limit) would be a step in the right direction.

Bikes needn't compromise safety either. Many agencies require that bikers use tie-downs to secure their cycles. Others require bikers have a permit. Although none in the United States do, some transit operators abroad charge bikers extra to bring their bikes along.

Not every MARC train runs full. With cycling becoming ever more popular, providing a rail link between Washington, Baltimore, and the suburbs would improve mobility for those who cannot walk to MARC. A blanket ban on bikes fails to leverage some of the empty space on trains. And encouraging cycles might alleviate parking crushes at some stations. MTA should follow the example of other commuter rail operators because it's the right thing to do and because it's also the law.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 


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Just a note, MTA has provided many MARC stations have very nice bicycle lockers. I rented one for a year without incident. I think it was around $75. I kept my bike at the station I was commuting to. For me, it was much easier than trying to load my bike onto the train every day, even if they did allow it.

One thing to consider is not all MARC stations have raised platforms. I suspect it would be difficult to carry a bike up those steps, then make a turn into the cabin. How do the other rail lines do it with low platforms?

by Erik on Dec 9, 2009 12:26 pm • linkreport

@Erik: The non-level platforms issue is a non-issue for, well, most other agencies. Outside of the LIRR, I can't think of an agency that is fully high-platform (Metro-North comes close and some MBTA and NJ transit lines are all high-platform). I would think one would just hoist their bike and get it into the car.

by Jason on Dec 9, 2009 12:32 pm • linkreport

Bikes always compromise safety by the way the pricks who ride them are always trying to run down us pedestrians. I'd rather see all private cars and bikes banned than have smelly sweaty bike jerks invade another space of pedestrians.

by neff on Dec 9, 2009 12:33 pm • linkreport

For more information on how other transit agencies cope with bikes, see:

NJ Transit does limit bike boarding to high-platform stations only. None of the other commuter rail operators do so, however Pittsburgh's LRT also bars bikes from boarding at low-platform stops.

by Matt Johnson on Dec 9, 2009 12:36 pm • linkreport

The picture shown is of a Gallery car - the type VRE uses. VRE has designed it's new railcars to have space for bicycles.

However, I don't believe there is space on MARC's Kawasaki cars

by Davin Peterson on Dec 9, 2009 12:43 pm • linkreport


Bikes always compromise ped. safety? I walk a lot through DC and GMU (where I go to school and there are a fair amount of bikes and even more peds.) and have honestly never had a problem with anyone on a bike while I was on foot. And is a train a pedestrian space? It seems like a train is a space for train riders whether they have a bike with them or not.

by Canaan on Dec 9, 2009 12:46 pm • linkreport

The funny thing about bikes and gallery cars is that they can only be used on low platforms and their entry is somewhat steep (5 steps from platform to train floor). Out of all the cars I'd want to put a bike on, a gallery car is probably the worst.

by Jason on Dec 9, 2009 12:56 pm • linkreport

related. i asked the gaithersburg city council about installing bike racks at the train station. i was told the bike lockers across the street at the parking agarage were sufficient.

boo gaithersburg city council.

by jared hautamaki on Dec 9, 2009 1:17 pm • linkreport

Why does this site have to criticize everything that doesn't measure up to their ideal? I'm a very strong proponent of smart growth, transit etc. but it's amazing how some people on this site criticize every stride to improve transit because it doesn't 100% meet their standards. I mean if you're going to be proponents of something at least allow some leeway, instead of this "all or nothing" attitude.

I ride 2 different MARC lines for my commute and have seen people with folding bikes many times, and they're usually kept in the vestibules. There's already this really enclosed nice place at Union Station to park your bicycle during the day as well as bicycle lockers at some stations. Contrary to your incorrect statement "not every MARC train runs full," nearly all rush hour MARC trains are already very, very crowded and I can't possibly see how bikes could fit on either MARC's bilevels or single levels. On the Penn Line lots of people are forced to stand.

Good for VRE that they have space for bikes. They don't have the overcrowding issues that MARC does. Plus, they just ordered brand new cars. Is the MTA/MARC supposed to order some brand new cars @ $2mil a piece just to allow bikes on board? From what I've heard and haven ridden on a few MARC has of the same type, VRE's older gallery cars (which they still operate) are pieces of sh*t, and not having room for bikes were the least of their probelms.

If you've ridden Metro-North or LIRR, like I have may, many times there is plenty of space for bikes because of the design of their equipment (which are kind of like Metro cars). They have all high platforms, large door openings on the newer M7's and much larger open area in front of the doors since they don't board in vestibules. Metra operates the same type of cars as VRE. Most other systems use low-floor Bombardier bilevels which like the MNR/LIRR cars provide a lot of space in front of the doors, since they also don't board in vestibules.

Sure MARC could allow bicycles off-peak and on the weekend, but they still don't operate on the weekend (thanks to Amtrak) and have limited off-peak service (none on 2 of the 3 lines).

by King Terrapin on Dec 9, 2009 1:38 pm • linkreport

related. i asked the gaithersburg city council about installing bike racks at the train station. i was told the bike lockers across the street at the parking agarage were sufficient.
boo gaithersburg city council.


it prob takes a grand total of 30 sec. to walk to the free parking garage from the train station. How is that inconvenient?

by King Terrapin on Dec 9, 2009 1:41 pm • linkreport

As a former daily commuter on LIRR, and a current daily commuter on the MARC Penn Line, I have to agree that there really isn't room for bikes on MARC trains as currently configured. I agree that it would be nice if I could bike to the station, ride with my bike into DC, then bike to work. However, a lot would have to change physically both within the cars and at the stations to accommodate this. As it is, MARC does the bare minimum to facilitate passenger rail travel between Maryland and DC--mostly, it seems, because of a lack of funding or dedicated right of way. LIRR has a much higher ridership which pays significantly higher fares, owns its rails, and thus provides a much better experience (I never thought I'd say something like that when I rode LIRR, but now I've seen how much worse commuter rail can be).

by bko on Dec 9, 2009 1:47 pm • linkreport

The article is a FAIL for legislative understanding. Just because a statute says that an agency shall develop regulations doesn't necessarily mean that MTA needs to do so. What if MTA looked at the issue and found the logistics of MARC trains made safe storage of bicycles on trains to be impossible? Under Mr. Johnson's interpretation of the law, that wouldn't matter. Unfortunately, that's not the right interpretation. An agency can choose not to issue regulations, even if an underlying statute says it must. There's a fair amount of caselaw on this issue. And, after all, the Maryland legislature has had 9 years to create its own regulations on this issue, yet it has chosen not to do so.

So, -1 for saying "it's the law" when it's really not. And -1 for not knowing how legislative interpretation works. And -2 for recounting the legislative history in the 4th and 5th paragraphs, but not knowing what it actually means.

by Fritz on Dec 9, 2009 2:00 pm • linkreport

caltrain (in sf) i think also helps to financially support the bike shop/bikestation-type place just outside the main downtown sf station -- Warm Planet Bikes. i think they have room for a couple of hundred bikes in there -- free valet bike parking. many of the other racks in the area are full, and slowly we're pushing the cars back out of the way. it's a *great* intersection that is *completely* overrun by cars still, but you can see shades of brilliance every once in a while. has a very euro feel sometimes.

it's generally no problem loading your bike on the train. the steps are big-ish, but every type of person does it -- tall or short, whatever.

all that said, the fight to get caltrain to do *anything* about bikes was a years-long process, and you should have heard the stories about people getting 'bumped' -- left at some desolate station in the middle of the night, scared to death, etc. -- heart-braking and infuriating -- made you want to get up and speak truth to power. i have a feeling that personal letters to elected representatives finally helped.

my advice? keep hammering. keep pushing the multi-modal/livability thing. everyone has a stake in seeing bikes-on-board. that means pulling in the pedestrian people, and other transit-advocate types. you scratch my back, i'll scratch yours. we simply have to start working together more. it was too easy for Caltrain to ignore 'the dirty/hippie bikers', imo -- even if their class level in society was tops.

and, look into kick scooters, like xootr. fold it up, ready to go! :)

by Peter Smith on Dec 9, 2009 2:01 pm • linkreport

This is a huge issue in my daily life as I bike & train commute from Frederick to DC. In the event of bad weather (such as last nightÂ’s ice storm), I am forced to take the Metro to Shady Grove (after rush hour) where my husband picks me up. The competing space issue is more applicable to the Penn line running between DC and Baltimore; however, vestibules (as mentioned above) are an obvious space for bikes. Furthermore, allowing bikes on the MARC during off-peak hours would be great if the MARC ran during off-peak hours. On the Brunswick line there are 3 trains in the morning and three trains in the evening all of which operate during rush hour. IÂ’m not sure which is more likely, allowing bikes on the MARC during rush hour, or adding more trains to the current schedule..

by Anna on Dec 9, 2009 2:09 pm • linkreport

Here are some photos of one of CalTrain's bike cars.

by BeyondDC on Dec 9, 2009 2:17 pm • linkreport

Even if it's limited to certain trains or certain times of day -- even if there's an extra charge -- even if it's subject to availability -- I agree wholeheartedly that MARC shouldn't ban bikes completely.

by Gavin Baker on Dec 9, 2009 2:29 pm • linkreport

Ive never understood why SUV strollers are allowed absolutely everywhere, and bikes arent, even though Ive seen strollers LONGER than bikes (and always wider)

by J on Dec 9, 2009 3:07 pm • linkreport

at King Terrapin - because I was coming from the other direction. There's a parking lot and there is plenty of room for a bike rack at the station proper as opposed to across the street and down the block.

Boo Gaitherburg City Council + King Terrapin.

by Jared Hautamaki on Dec 9, 2009 4:27 pm • linkreport

at King Terrapin - because I was coming from the other direction. There's a parking lot and there is plenty of room for a bike rack at the station proper as opposed to across the street and down the block.
Boo Gaitherburg City Council + King Terrapin.


I figured you were, but what about cyclists coming from that direction (MD 355/parking garage). Hardly anyboody even uses the tiny parking lot at the station. Most people use the garage, so it would make sense to put the bike lockers there too.

by King Terappin on Dec 9, 2009 6:54 pm • linkreport

There is no valid reason for MARC banning bicycles on off-peak trains. SEPTA in Greater Philadelphia has been safely carrying bikes for 18 years without any major incidents. NJ Transit has for 17 years. Both systems carry more than 100,000 riders a day. Bicyclists on those systems realize that bike access is a privilege and exercise courtesy in regard to other passengers.

Allowing bicycles is a proven revenue generator for public transportation.

by Phillly Bicycle Coalition on Dec 9, 2009 9:55 pm • linkreport

@KingTerrapin: Last time I checked, the reason there's no MARC service on the weekends (at least, on the Penn Line) is that Maryland just has no money to pay for it. The MTA's own website says that Amtrak will allow extra MARC service, as long as it doesn't interfere with Amtrak service. CSX thinking that passenger rail is evil (or something to that effect) is the reason there's no weekend service (or off-peak service) on the Camden/Brunswick lines.

As for bikes on trains, where exactly are they supposed to fit? For peak trains, this is flat-out impossible. There is barely enough room for people on these trains. Off peak trains COULD do this, possibly, but again, where would they go? MARC's railcars weren't designed with bikes in mind. And I highly doubt the MTA wants to spend money on new railcars just so a few people can get their bikes on board. And since there's bike spaces available at many stations, what need is there for you to take your bike on the train with you?

by Justin..... on Dec 10, 2009 12:33 am • linkreport

Many commuter rail operators specify that bikes are to be placed in the ADA-accessible areas of the car. MARC has these, and bikes could easily be kept there.

Commuter rail providers almost uniformly require that bikers leave the train or move to another car if a wheelchair user or other disabled rider needs the ADA area.

by Matt Johnson on Dec 10, 2009 10:12 am • linkreport

If you are like me needs to shed some weight biking will be perfect since you donÂ’t need that much effort in doing your daily routine biking exercise. Just have 30 minutes of biking around your area it will have some effect on your weight loss.

by Carrera Bike on Dec 10, 2009 11:35 am • linkreport

@Justin: I fully agree with your 2nd paragraph; it's basically everything I had said earlier. As for MARC not running on weekends, now the problem is money, but it wasn't a year and a half ago when sevice was supposed to start on the Penn Line. The original reason for a lack of service was simply becuase they couldn't reach an agreement with Amtrak over train crews. Basically Amtrak didn't want to crew weekend trains. Weekend service on the Camden and Brunswick Lines was never planned, although you're right about CSX (despite the fact they make a profit operating MARC).

@Matt. Have you ridden a rush-hour MARC train? People are sitting and standing in ADA areas. The ADA space on a single level car is barely large enough to accomodate a bike. There's more space on the "middle level" on the bilevels but passengers crowd that space during the rush. Yes, you could allow bikes off-peak (which only applies to the Penn Line), but is it really worth it?

by King Terrapin on Dec 10, 2009 11:48 am • linkreport


The MTA is clearly violating both the letter and spirit of the law adopted by the General Assembly in 2000.

Mr. Johnson is spot on; the MTA is violating the letter of law. According to the Maryland Style Manual for Statutory Law, "shall" is used to state a requirement or duty. Therefore, a statute that says the MTA "shall adopt regulations to facilitate the transportation of bicycles on board passenger railroad services" requires them to do just that. Not adopting any regulations at all does not meet the letter of the law.

(Even if there is case law that case law relegates "shall" to being discretionary, it still violates the stated intention of the General Assembly that passed it and the Governor who signed the bill into law.)

If you're going to be picky about it, you should know better than to say the General Assembly could adopt its own regulations. The General Assembly can change statutes, but can't adopt or amend regulations.

Mr. Johnson did make a minor error in identifying the relevant provision of law. The provision he cites is Section 7-902(f) of the Annotated Code of Maryland, not the Code of Maryland Regulations. The Code of Maryland Regulations is a compilation of administrative regulations that the General Assembly cannot change.

If you really want to pick nits, once HB 1260 was signed by Governor Glendening it became Chapter 684, Acts of 2000, and lost its House bill number.

My score: Fritz -3, Johnson 1

by Stanton Park on Dec 10, 2009 12:19 pm • linkreport

Whoops. My mistake. I left out the name of the article in the code citation.

Section 7-902(f) of the Transportation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland

by Stanton Park on Dec 10, 2009 12:22 pm • linkreport


I would appreciate seeing some of the caselaw that you believe supports the proposition that an administrative agency can, based on its own independent policy judgment, choose to disregard a directed rulemaking. It would surprise me to learn that Maryland courts have held that the agency can pick and choose which statutes they must follow. I'm not necessarily saying that you are wrong, but I suspect that you are.

Moreover, I think that an agency would have a tough time justifying such an action based upon a factual determination that it is "impossible" to safely store bikes on a train. MTA could, of course, dedicate one car on each train solely to bicycle storage. That might not be a good policy option, but the rejection of such an option would be an exercise of policy judgment by the agency not the natural consequence of impossibility.

Again, you might be right, but that sounds nutty to me.

by todd on Dec 10, 2009 12:44 pm • linkreport

@Todd: Take a look at Massachusetts v EPA and Norton v. Utah Wilderness. Both were recent Supreme Court cases that dealt with whether an agency had to issue regulations when the legislature said they did. Take a look also at the Administrative Procedures Act sections dealing with judicial review of agency actions. There's a fair amount of Supreme Court precedent restricting judicial review of agency decisionmaking, including agency decisions not to issue regulations. Lincoln v. Vigil; Webster v. Doe; ICC v. Locomotive Engineers; Southern Rail v. Seaboard Allied Milling. There's also a good article in last winter's edition of the Admin Law Review on the issue of resource allocations when agencies decide whether or not to issue regulations.

@Standton: You may be correct; I thought MD legislature could issue regulations; perhaps it's can't. But it can say that unless MTA issues regulations, it will hold back funding. As far as I know, it hasn't done that in 9 years. Which, in my mind, makes me wonder how important an issue this is to the Md state government.

by Fritz on Dec 10, 2009 4:55 pm • linkreport

@Fritz: I am familiar with Mass v. EPA, Norton v. SUWA, etc. and am very familiar with the APA. Of course, all of those authorities concern FEDERAL procedure, not Maryland state procedure, so they do not control whether a Maryland state agency must follow a directed rulemaking statute enacted by the Maryland legislature.

But even if they did, no federal case I am aware of recognizes the authority of administrative agencies to refuse to issue regulations when Congress has explicitly instructed them to do so (i.e. did not vest the agency with discretion to decide whether to regulate). In particular, the SUWA case was premised on the notion that the BLM had exercised its properly-delegated (from Congress) discretion not to manage lands in a certain way. The fact that Congress had vested the agency was discretion was key in that opinion. Same with Webster v. DOE and other cases.

I'm not sure why you think that Mass. v. EPA supports the position that an agency can disobey a directed rulemaking statute enacted by the legislature. I read Justice Stevens' opinion completely the other way.

If federal procedure law governed the MTA matter and if the MD legislature directed MTA to consider "adopt[ing] regulations to facilitate the transportation of bicycles on board passenger railroad services" (or used similar language vesting the agency with discretion re whether to facilitate the transportation of bikes on trains), then I would agree with you. But it didn't. Barring some other legislative language explicitly vesting MTA with discretion, I agree with Matt Johnson on this one.

by todd on Dec 11, 2009 10:08 am • linkreport

Maybe this has already been addressed, but upon reading Section 7-902 (, it does not seem that the law requires that bikes be allowed on the train, but rather, that MTA must come up with a formal regulation concerning bikes and trains.

"The Administration shall adopt regulations to facilitate the transportation of bicycles on board passenger railroad services"

by Anna on Dec 11, 2009 2:39 pm • linkreport

Since "facilitate" means "make easier," "To facilitate" would suggest that the regulations are required to make transportation of bikes on trains easier. Regulations that say "no bikes on trains" do not do this.

If the law said "regulations concerning the transportation of bicycles" then I agree that the regulations could simply say "no bikes." But it says "facilitate." They should still be able to restrict the bikes to certain trains or otherwise put reasonable limits on, but not simply to ban them entirely.

by David Alpert on Dec 11, 2009 2:42 pm • linkreport

As Stanton Park says, the bicycle clause is Section 7-902(f) of the Transportation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland. The section 7-902 in Anna's link is outdated.

by Miriam on Dec 11, 2009 3:49 pm • linkreport

Thanks, I was wondering why I couldn't find (f).

by Anna on Dec 11, 2009 3:53 pm • linkreport

Couple things stand out to me here.

I have ridden on 2 MARC lines for substantial periods. the Brunswick and the Penn. I have been on the Camden for a handful of rides. On the Brunswick and camden lines non-folding bikes are simply not feasible on the single level cars that operate on those lines. I have seen people with non-folding bikes get on them and the only place to keep the bike is literally in the aisle. Tell me thats not a safety hazard. Even folding bikes that I have seen on these single level cars do not fit in the over head storage and are thus placed on the seat next to the bike riding commuter, taking up a seat that could be used by an animate being. Similar issues exist on the older double decker cars that run on the Brunswick line.

On the newer double decker cars that operate mostly on the penn line, but also on the other lines, there is a limited amount of room to place a non-folding bike. This space is also used by wheelchairs, luggage (since the penn line goes to BWI) and standing people. Folding bikes can and are placed in the open storage are immediately inside the train door.

It seems to me to be a very arrogant statement to say, "accommodate my bike," on a system that is under-subsidized and ran several cars short during rush hour this summer because of repairs, and has a lack of fully working engines. If a biker feels that strongly, they could use a bike locker to store one bike at their station and another at their destination station. You can get a used bike cheap in the classifieds. Also Union Station just opened a huge new bike storage/rental facility.

Speaking of laws that folks must abide by. I think that bikers are also supposed to obey traffic laws and signals. But they don't. If you experienced this then I suggest you take more walks in DC, especially around Capitol Hill, where I have learned to always take an extra look when the walk sign appears at a crosswalk, because the cars have the more courteous drivers. Its the bikes that run you over.

by Marc Rider on Dec 14, 2009 12:27 pm • linkreport

above should read: If you HAVEN'T experienced this then I suggest you take more walks in DC, especially around Capitol Hill...

by Marc Rider on Dec 14, 2009 12:32 pm • linkreport

Hi I am the guy who did the legal reserch and found the law here by accedent. I am from Cumberland MD and occasionaly use MARC and the Subway system. The reason I want bikes on trains is so that people can get out to the C&O canal and Great Allegany Passage on the weekends and come back using MARC to the city. MARC has old railroad cars that can bee stripped into a bike car....You also must realize that Rush hour on MARC Commuter rail is a mid day traffic in Chicago and New York. It seems that MARC does not know how to run a railroad as they can Ellviate crowding by having longer platforms and assiged seating. In Chicago it is not unusual to have one train with 800 to 1,000 people on it. The MARC Bileval cars are also the same cars that Chicago uses and they alloe bikes. The Kawasaki bileval cars are used in Boston and they allow bikes....The single leval Pullmans are also used in boston as well. The ADA spaces are used for bikes in BOSTON MBTA and the bikes ae required to be Bungeed down and MBTA has hooks for this purpose or uses the Wheelchair locks...To be honest here I dont see a huge demand here like California but the logistics of getting your bike downtown to park it at Union Station or getting your bike to the Airport pose some problems here

by Ray on Dec 15, 2009 8:27 pm • linkreport


There are many problems and innacuracies in your post:

1. having MARC strip cars just for bikes wouldn't make any sense, for about 100 different reasons including the fact that the old cars aren't used anymore for a reason (maintenance, cost, safety, compatibility with other cars etc.)

2. Once again NYC and Chicago (the 1st and 3rd most populated cities) are being compared to DC. Also, MARC may have the midday schedules of these trains at rush hour(which in fact they don't, since MARC runs every 10-20 min in rush, and I know for a fact that NJT, MNR, LIRR run at 1 hour intervals during the day), but they have more packed trains, specifically on the Penn Line.

3. MARC does not use the same cars as Chicago. Chicago (and VRE) uses bilevel "gallery" cars which are a totally different configuraion than the conventional (and more comfortable) bilevels MARC uses. MARC in fact does actually use a handful of gallery cars (obtained from Chicago's Metra) but just on 2 Brunswick Line trainsets, and those can't accomodate bicycles (the newer ones used in Chicago can).

4. While Boston does use older versions of MARC's Kawasaki bilevels the single level cars are different (neither uses Pullmans though).

by King Terrapin on Dec 15, 2009 9:21 pm • linkreport

I have to disagree with the article. There's just no room for bikes, especially during rush hour. On a bad day, the Penn line is just as crowded as the Red line during rush hour. The storage space on the train is designed to hold suitcases. There's no room in the aisles, especially in the peak hours when people stand there.

by Josh on Dec 15, 2009 11:50 pm • linkreport


if you are coming from Cumberland then you are riding the Brunswick line which is like the red headed stepchild of the Marc system They do indeed use some old Chicago gallery cars, but they are not the norm on the Marc system as a whole, which has the newer bi level cars. The Brunswick line also does not have as much crowding, which occurs primarily on the Penn line, and does not run reverse or midday schedules because there isn't as much demand on those lines. That in mind, comparing that experience to NYC or Chicago isn't just like comparing apples to oranges, its like comparing apples to kangaroos.

by Marc Rider on Dec 16, 2009 9:43 am • linkreport shows the Brunswick yard with the cars in it. Go to Birds Eye. There are 2 RDC cars in the corner and two Baggage cars up front that need a paint job....I say lets try the bike thing and see what happens. You start out with a fee or bike pass and pay for how many seats you are taking up and leave it to the conducters discrection which up untill a few years ago was the policy anyway.

by Ray on Dec 16, 2009 2:12 pm • linkreport

CSX also uses the Brunswick yard, so those cars might not be MARC's. I'm also not sure that there would be enough generated in those fees you suggest to outfit new cars for bikers. Certainly not on the Brunswick line. Maybe on the Penn line where there are more trains and more riders, but even then it may not be fiscally possible. MARC is already heavily subsidized (in a recession!) and its regular ticket prices are not covering the full cost of operations.

by Marc Rider on Dec 16, 2009 5:11 pm • linkreport

There are grants thru the CEMAC Clean Air Act and the Federal Transit Admintration for bike racks for buses...I am sure that having bike racks that fold down from the walls of ther train would quilify...CSX runs the Brunswick line for MARC and they use CSX crews----What is needed is someone to call there state rep as I have and to file paperwork in a local court where MARC runs and get a judge to call MARC to the floor and ask them why they are not following the law rather then have us try and give excuses for MARC. If MARC and the MTA can get away with not following the Maryland laws that have been directed at them then any bureucrat is free to do what ever the heck he wants as long as its convainte for him or her.

by ray on Dec 17, 2009 1:12 pm • linkreport


Why are you so pissed off about not having bikes on MARC? The guy who wrote this article is clearly uninformed since, as everyone else here has said, there is no space for bikes on MARC trains during rush hour, and they only operate (frequent) midday trains on the Penn Line. I ride the MARC Brunswick Line and by time we get to Silver Spring out of DC there are numerous people in the aisles standing. MARC is a victim of its own success and has seen rapidly increasing rideship and as a result, packed trains. The last thing they need is to be taking up space with bikes. I think bikes should be allowed on trains (and folding bikes are on MARC), but it's not that big of a deal. Regardless of what the law says, and I'm pretty sure the MTA isn't breaking the law here, it's impractical to have bikes on MARC's current equipment.

VRE has less than half the ridership of MARC and uses a totally different seating scheme in their gallery cars, which actually suck for passengers. They don't even use high platforms at all, while MARC and the other Northeast railroads do.

by Dan on Dec 17, 2009 3:38 pm • linkreport

For me amd others it is a Disablity issue as I cant drive because of my disablity (there are a number of disablites were driving is out of the question). MARC Brunswick and the Camden line go thru a lot of rural areas with no bus service and I have freinds and work that I need to get to but cant get to. Does anyone here know how to get to the Perryville VA Hospital by bus? or to Harpers Ferry? Or to Duffields and Shepaerdstown College by bus? Greyhound has cut service out here

by Ray on Dec 18, 2009 12:11 am • linkreport

Well Ray, you may be disappointed because MARC has indeed developed regulations to facilitate the transportation of bicycles on MARC as per the law. According to MARC's policy manual seen at the policy on bikes is:

"A bicycle whose frame folds and the wheels
come together is permitted on MARC Train. The
preferred method of transporting a folded bicycle
on MARC Train is in a case. Stow folded bicycles
so that passenger aisles are kept unobstructed.
Folded bicycles are not permitted to be stowed in
overhead storage bins. Extreme care must be
taken when entering or exiting MARC Train with
a bicycle from or onto a low platform. "

You are going to have some trouble with your goal of calling them "to the floor" when MARC will be able to say that this is their policy and that it was created in accordance with the law that was stated above, considering existing space and the safety of other passengers. They have done what they law required them to do.

As for disability, I'm sorry for the stress this puts you under, but I really don't think its going to fly in court. MARC has other accessibility issues such as low platforms and the 100 stairs you have to go up and down at the Halethorpe station in order to cross the tracks. Seems like the steps would get them "called to the floor" faster than your bike issue, but they haven't. You aren't going to get anywhere saying that MARC isn't accommodating YOUR bike, when they have really tried. They have lockers and they allow foldups.

by Marc Rider on Dec 18, 2009 9:26 am • linkreport

most bikes these days have quick release wheels that when taken off and bunged to the frame colapse down to the size of a folding bike...There are even collapible trailers out there as well....This is also a civil rights issue as most minorities in this area --Black and Brown work reverse commute jobs and are transit dependent. The white suberban commuters come inbound while low income minorites go outbound to work service jobs in high income communties that are not right on a bus line. There has been a huge call for VRE to run reverse commute for sometime in NOVA..These high income areas cant support a fixed route bus system and many employers wont hire anyone out here who might miss the only bus that comes out here....DC metro is still segragated---Blacks in the city and Allflunt Blacks in PG County--Hispanics in NOVA--Jews in Rockville--WASPS outside the beltway. Dont Belive me? Go to Union Station and see who gets on what train...Access to a bike may mean the diffrence between geting to a apartment and a job in Germantown or not...It amazes me when whites say OMG he just played the RACE CARD! Why we are educated white folk who went to the best schools!

by Ray on Dec 18, 2009 1:50 pm • linkreport

Well this conversation was just fine up until you pulled that race card. Please! Transit is a service provided by the state. it is not a right. All of the liberal gimme gimme attitude is putting states and the feds on a fiscal train wreck that could eventually shut down the services you hold dear. You ought to enjoy it while you can. MARC has tried to accommodate bikes on the equipment they have. Naturally that's not enough for some people who demand more, no matter the cost. Then after they are shown that the MTA has indeed followed the law they were crying about them not following they resort to the great non sequitur -- RACE

by Marc Rider on Dec 22, 2009 10:39 am • linkreport

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