MTA and CSX explain lousy MARC Brunswick performance
According to the Maryland Transit Administration's MARC train daily service digest, on-time performance for the Brunswick Line for October 1-21 was 56%. For the first daily afternoon train, it was 36%.
The delays were typically substantial: for example, trains were 7, 11, 20, 22, and 31 minutes late on the morning of October 4; 33, 53, 47, 15, 9, 33, and 34 minutes on the afternoon of October 6; and 26, 19, 50, 14, and 13 minutes on the morning of October 18.
At the meeting Thursday of the MARC Riders Advisory Council (of which I am a member), officials from MTA, Amtrak, and CSX explained the problems. They included flooding; two people hit by trains; replacement of tracks and ties by CSX; freight train, MARC train, and passenger warning system breakdowns; and signal problems. Chip Dobson, director of passenger and commuter operations at CSX, described it as "a perfect storm".
According to John Wright, Baltimore division manager at CSX, CSX is working on the signal problems, which regularly delay freight as well as passenger trains, and the CSX track work on the Brunswick Line is scheduled to finish next week.
Also, both Wright and Dobson said that CSX has told its dispatchers to give passenger trains priority over freight trains. But many Brunswick Line riders have heard from train conductors (who are CSX employees) that CSX dispatchers give freight trains priority over passenger trains.
Other Brunswick Line issues discussed at the meeting were:
- MARC's new PA/LED system, which is supposed to start running after the new year and will be able to show when the next train is coming;
- The Frederick County sheriff's jurisdiction over pedestrian safety at the Brunswick MARC station parking lot;
- The uncomfortableness of MARC's gallery cars, due to inadequate air conditioning, and single-level cars, due to seats that are three across;
- MTA's bus bridge from Rockville to points west, when MARC afternoon train service is shut down;
- MARC communication with the Greyhound employee who sells MARC tickets at Frederick;
- MARC's definition of "on time" as a train that arrives at its final destination less than 6 minutes after the time on the schedule; and
- The need to redo Brunswick Line schedules to account for increases in passenger loading times due to increased ridership.
The MARC Riders Advisory Council meets on the third Thursday of every month at 4:30 pm near Union Station. Meetings are open to the public.
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Long-term closures: A solution to single-tracking?
- Metro policy for refunds after delays falls short, riders say
- PG planners propose bold new smart growth future
- Prince George's County struggles to get trails right
- M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger