Charm City Circulator’s Banner Route To Continue

| July 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

“As the state decision unfolded [referencing the cancellation of the Red Line], I knew we needed to take a second look at the Charm City Circulator and there was a nagging feeling that we needed to dig deeper when it came to the Banner Route,” said Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to a large crowd at the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) on Monday night.

FullSizeRenderIn May, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced drastic changes to the Charm City Circulator, including the elimination of the Banner Route, which were to take effect on July 20th. However, the Mayor announced yesterday that the Banner Route will continue. A large cheer erupted from the crowd of approximately 300 at the BMI as she announced the news.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake gave much of the credit for the decision to District 11 Councilman Eric Costello, who she described as “relentless.”

“He is a team player who makes sure his district gets what it needs, but also understands the needs of the rest of the city,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake.

“Ever since these cuts were first proposed, I have been regularly talking with both the Mayor and our City Council’s leadership to find a way to avoid the elimination of the Banner Route,” Councilman Costello said in a press release. “I appreciate the commitment shown by Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Council President Bernard C. Jack Young, and Councilwoman Helen Holton for the importance of public transportation, and their willingness to keep working with me to find the right solution for the residents, workers, visitors and employers of the 11th District.”

Though the Banner Route will continue, there will be operational changes to the route that will be fully discussed at a public meeting at Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School on July 13th. DOT Director William Johnson told the crowd that the Banner Route would be full service Monday through Friday from 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm and would serve as more of a shuttle service in between and on the weekends when it will run hourly.

The Banner Route, with an approximate operating cost of $3 million, was largely funded by a federal grant for National Parks to celebrate the 200-year anniversaries of the War of 1812 and the Battle of Baltimore, but funding will expire on July 20th. Mayor Rawlings-Blake told SouthBMore.com that they will be finding ways to make the Circulator System more efficient and that a full breakdown of the funding would be provided by the finance department.

The elimination of the Banner Route was strongly opposed by many in the South Baltimore community which included a letter to the Mayor asking her to reconsider her decision. This letter spearheaded by the Locust Point Civic Association was cosigned by the Riverside Neighborhood Association, the Key Highway Community Association, the American Visionary Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Industry, Friends of Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle Parent Teacher Association, Under Armour, Domino Sugar, MAIF, Martin-Lauer Associates, Southside Diner, BambooMoves Yoga, In Like Flynn Tavern, JR’s Bar & Grill, LP Steamers, Silo.5%, World of Beer, Hull Street Blues Café, Barracudas Tavern, and City Limits Sports Bar. Also included were area real estate developers War Horse Development, Mark Sapperstein’s MCS Fort Ave., Turner Development, The Bozzuto Group, and Goodier Property Group. Federal Hill Neighborhood Association also voted recently to support this effort.

The District 46 Delegation of Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegates Luke Clippinger, Pete Hammen, and Brooke Lierman also wrote a letter to Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Johnson “to strongly urge them to maintain the Circulator’s Banner Route and the current level of service to the Green and Orange Routes.” The Green and Orange Routes will also experience cutbacks.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake told SouthBMore.com that she heard the calls from the community and local businesses and jokingly told the crowd that they can stop calling her now.

Costello and Mayor Rawlings-Blake also noted the importance of improved public transportation following the recent announcement that the state would not be funding the Red Line Light Rail project. “We have not met public transportation needs,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “We need to take a deeper look at the Charm City Circulator and expand it but we also need to review our current MTA Bus Service. I’ve asked the Governor Hogan Administration to move forward an MTA Bus improvement plan that was first discussed under Martin O’Malley.”

Councilman Costello told SouthBMore.com that a proposed Purple Line extension four blocks to the south from Fort Ave. to Wells St. will not move forward at this time, but that he will continue to fight for it. The Purple Line will extend to the north from Penn Station to 33rd St. in Charles Village beginning on July 2oth.

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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