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Maryland Transit Administration

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is a state-operated mass transit administration in Maryland, and is part of the Maryland Department of Transportation. It is better known as MTA Maryland to avoid confusion with other cities' transit agencies who share the initials MTA. The MTA operates a comprehensive transit system throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. There are 80 bus lines serving Baltimore's public transportation needs, along with other services that include the Light Rail, Metro Subway, and MARC Train. With nearly half the population of Baltimore residents lacking access to a car,[6] the MTA is an important part of the regional transit picture. The system has many connections to other transit agencies of Central Maryland, Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and south-central Pennsylvania (Hanover, Harrisburg, and York): WMATA, Charm City Circulator, Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland, Annapolis Transit, Rabbit Transit, Ride-On, and TransIT.

Maryland Transit Administration
MTA Maryland
MDOT-MTA Logo.svg
MTA Maryland Services.jpg
From left, clockwise: Baltimore Light Rail, Express bus, Commuter bus, MARC, Paratransit, and Baltimore Metro Subway
William Donald Schaefer Building.jpg
William Donald Schaefer Building in Baltimore; MTA Maryland's headquarters
Locale Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit type Bus
Light rail
Heavy rail
Commuter rail
Number of lines Heavy rail: 1
Light rail: 3
Commuter rail: 3
Bus: 80
Number of stations Heavy rail: 14
Light rail: 33
Commuter rail: 43[1]
Daily ridership 380,100 (Q2 2016)[2]
Annual ridership 112,528,100 (2015)[3]
Chief executive Kevin B. Quinn, Jr. [4]
Began operation April 30, 1970; 47 years ago (1970-04-30)
Operator(s) Maryland Department of Transportation
Number of vehicles Heavy Rail: 100
Light Rail: 53
Commuter rail: 175
Bus: 842
Mobility vans: 303
Mobility sedans: 124 (2010)[5]
System length Heavy rail: 15.2 miles (24.5 km)
Light rail: 30 miles (48 km)
Commuter rail: 187 miles (301 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge



The MTA took over the operations of the old Baltimore Transit Company on April 30, 1970.[7] It was originally known as the Baltimore Metropolitan Transit Authority, then the Mass Transit Administration before it changed to its current name in October 2001.[8]

Many of the routes of most of the agency's current bus lines are based on the original streetcars operated by the Baltimore Transit Company and its parent companies from the 1890s to the 1960s. All these routes were ultimately converted to rubber tire bus operations, and many of them were consolidated, extended into newly developed areas, or otherwise reconfigured to keep up with the ridership demands of the times.[7] Additional routes and extensions were added in later years to serve communities that were later developed, and to feed into Metro and Light Rail stations that were later built.

With the growth in popularity of the private automobile during the 20th century, streetcar and bus ridership declined, and the needs for public transportation changed. Mass transit in Baltimore and other cities shifted from a corporate operation to a tax-subsidized state-run service. The amount of service provided was greatly reduced, and some areas once served by streetcars are currently served by buses very minimally or not at all.[7] The demise of the Baltimore streetcar took place between the years of 1947 and 1963, as operators found buses to be low maintenance and more cost-efficient. As rails were demolished, Baltimore was no longer a streetcar city. As transit needs and trends changed, rail transit did return to the city, with the Metro Subway opening in 1983 and the Light Rail in 1992.[7] The track gauge was 5 ft 4 12 in (1,638 mm), a unique gauge.[9]

Bus servicesEdit

Bus services operate throughout the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area and other parts of the state. These include local bus routes which serve areas of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County. Neighborhood shuttle service operating in specific Baltimore City areas, mainly in the northwest region. QuickBus operates limited-stop service throughout the city. Commuter, express, and intercounty connector bus routes operate within other parts of the state usually via highways or Interstate.

Local busEdit

Local bus lines are identified by a one- or two-digit number. There are currently forty-six local bus routes throughout the urban and suburban area of Baltimore City numbered 1 through 98.[10]


Until June 2017, The MTA operated four limited-stop routes known as Quickbus or qb, which were designated as routes qb40, qb46, qb47, and qb48.[10]

Neighborhood Shuttle BugEdit

Until June 2017, The MTA had two neighborhood shuttle routes: The Mondawmin Shuttle Bug Route 97 and the Hampden Shuttle Bug Route 98. These routes can be identified by their distinctive brand colors and logos.

Express busEdit

The MTA operates 9 express bus lines in the Baltimore area, which are the 103, 104, 105, 115, 120, 150, 154, 160,and 164.[11]

Commuter busEdit

MTA Maryland MCI D4500CTH #176

Independent bus companies operate 26 commuter bus routes in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore regions. There are five Baltimore-bound bus lines numbered in the 300 and 400 range; while the sixteen Washington-bound bus lines are numbered in the 600 and 900 range.[12] These routes range from 310 through 995. Buses travelling on MD 200 are numbered in the 200 range. Five routes ranging 201 through 205.[13]

Rail servicesEdit

Budd built Universal Transit Vehicle as seen on the Baltimore Metro departing the Milford Mill Station

Heavy rail (Metro Subway)Edit

This system operates elevated and underground from a corporate and shopping complex in Owings Mills in Baltimore County into the heart of Downtown Baltimore City's business, shopping and sightseeing districts to the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medical Center Complex. The 15.5-mile (24.94 km) northwest-southeastbound route includes 14 station stops. Its route through the densest parts of the city is underground, from Hopkins Hospital to a portal west of Mondawmin station, where it immediately rises to an elevated concrete right of way parallel to Wabash Avenue practically at the city line.

Entering Baltimore County, the line goes to surface, passing through communities along the way to commuter based stops at Milford Mill Road (Pikesville) and Old Court Road (Pikesville). From Old Court, the tracks pass underneath the I-695/795 interchange, and travel the median of 795 till their end at Owings Mills (Painter's Mill Road) This station is the centerpiece of a huge project intending to urbanize that immediate area, with a Baltimore County Public Library branch, and classroom space for the Community College of Baltimore County under construction. Residential and commercial development is planned to follow the completion of the education buildings.

There are efforts underway to extend the line northeast through the city with phase 1 to Morgan State University and phase 2 beyond the city limits to the White Marsh Town Center area. If they come to fruition, the line will be renamed the Green Line, coordinating with the new Red Line (east-west Woodlawn/Security-Hopkins Bayview Hospital) in its preliminary engineering stage. Funding for the Green Line extension is still years from being secured but includes an option to extend it as light rail or BRT from Johns Hopkins Hospital.

An ABB built 2-car light rail at Convention Center/ Pratt Street Stop

Light railEdit

This service travels from a corporate, hotel, and shopping complex in Baltimore County’s Hunt Valley, through the suburbs north of Baltimore and northern Baltimore City and into the heart of downtown Baltimore's shopping, sightseeing, dining, and entertainment districts, past the harbor and through southern Baltimore City and finally to BWI Marshall Airport and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County. There is also a spur to Amtrak’s Baltimore Penn Station.

The Light Rail operates at grade for the most part, though it travels on bridges crossing several bodies of water. There are 33 station stops along the 30.0-mile (48.28 km) system. Although much of the line was single-tracked when it was built, the MTA completed a double-tracking project on February 26, 2006,[14] and now only a few short single-track sections remain.

MARC commuter train at Dickerson station

Commuter rail (MARC)Edit

This service operates three lines that provide commuter rail service to riders out of and into Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Frederick, Perryville, and Martinsburg, WV, as well as several other locations in between.

Mobility servicesEdit


The MTA began offering paratransit service for persons with disabilities in 1978 when it took over a mobility service in Baltimore previously operated by Lutheran Family Services.[15] This mobility service is a "non-fixed route" service and consists of a fleet of specially converted Ford E-Series vans and Ford Crown Victorias. Some service is contracted out to MV Transportation and Transdev, but all vehicles are owned by MTA.

MTA Maryland Ford E-Series van used for Mobility services.

Taxi AccessEdit

A sub-service of the Paratransit program is MTA's Taxi Access program. The Taxi Access program ensures that any sufficiently physically disabled person that consistently requires Paratransit service can also qualify for the Taxi Access program. The Taxi Access program allows the bearer of a Taxi Access card to take a taxicab door-to-door within the limits of anywhere MTA Paratransit vans go; i.e. within 1/3 of a mile of an MTA public transit stop of any kind. Once the trip is complete, total out-of-pocket cost for the customer is $3.00, and the MTA picks up the rest of the price of the fare, "paying" it to the driver in the form of a voucher that s/he later redeems at his/her cab company headquarters.[16]

Proposed servicesEdit

2002 Baltimore Rail Plan

The MTA is studied a number of proposed services, which included the Red Line (a proposed east–west light rail line that would have passed from Woodlawn pass near Patterson Park) to Johns Hopkins Bayview Med. Ctr. and the Green Line (a proposed north–south line that would have extended from the Johns Hopkins Hospital into northeast Baltimore, possibly as an extension of the Metro Subway). As of summer 2011, the Red Line had received federal permission to enter preliminary engineering. Both lines were cancelled by Gov. Larry Hogan in June 2015.[17]

Outside of Baltimore the MTA is also studying the Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton, and the Corridor Cities Transitway between Gaithersburg and Clarksburg. Both studies are evaluating bus rapid transit and light rail options.

Baltimore LinkEdit

BaltimoreLink is an overhaul of the core MTA bus service within and around Baltimore City. The announcement of the Baltimore Link plan came from Gov. Larry Hogan in 2015, as part of a $135 Million investment to help improve the transit system through the entire Baltimore metropolitan area.[18] The announcement came on the heels of Gov. Hogan rejecting the initially planned Red Line and Green Line light-rail systems.


BaltimoreLink has three forms of bus service: CityLink, ExpressLink, and LocalLink. System maps are available online.[3]


  • CityLink Blue (BL): CMS & Security Square Mall/Westgate to Bayview
  • CityLink Brown (BR): White Marsh / Overlea to University Of MD Transit Center
  • CityLink Gold (GD): Walbrook Junction to Berea / Canton Crossing
  • CityLink Green (GR): Towson to Inner Harbor
  • CityLink Lime (LM): Randallstown to Fulton Loop / Fells Point
  • CityLink Navy (NV): Bullneck (Watersedge)/ Dundalk(Center Place Loop) / Turners Station to Mondawmin
  • CityLink Orange (OR): Fox Ridge (Essex) to West Baltimore MARC
  • CityLink Pink (PK): Cedonia to West Baltimore MARC
  • CityLink Purple (PR): Rt. 40 & Rolling Road (Catonsville) / Paradise Loop to Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • CityLink Red (RD): Lutherville / Towson to University Of MD Transit Center/Greenmount North
  • CityLink Yellow (YW): Pataspaco LR VIA Riverview / UMBC via Kaiser to Mondawmin
  • CityLink Silver (SV): Curtis Bay to Johns Hopkins University / Morgan State University

Express BusLinkEdit

  • Express Bus Link 103: Cromwell to Inner Harbor / Kirk Ave (Am & Pm Reverse Commute trips)
  • Express Bus Link 104: Cromwell to Hopkins Hospital/Harbor East
  • Express Bus Link 105: Cedonia to Lexington Market Metro
  • Express Bus Link 115: Perry Hall to Lexington Market Metro / North Ave (Am & Pm Reverse Commute trips)
  • Express Bus Link 120: White Marsh Park and Ride to Charles Ctr. and Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Express Bus Link 150: Columbia to Harbor East
  • Express Bus Link 154: State Center Metro to Carney / Hillendale
  • Express Bus Link 160: Charles Ctr. and Johns Hopkins Hospital to Essex or Whispering Woods
  • Express Bus Link 164: City Hall to Riviera Beach
  • Express Bus Link 210: Kent Island / Annapolis to Baltimore
  • Express Bus Link 215: Baltimore to Annapolis


  • No. 21 WoodBerry Light Rail Station to Canton
  • No. 22 Bayview to Mondawmin Metro Station
  • No. 26 South Baltimore Park and Ride to Mondawmin
  • No. 28 Moravia to Rogers Metro Station
  • No. 29 Mondawmin Metro Station to Brooklyn Homes
  • No. 30 Rogers Metro Station to Rosedale
  • No. 31 Siani Hopistal to Security Square Mall via Rogers Metro
  • No. 33 Overlea to Mt. Washington
  • No. 34 Falls Rd Light Rail Station/Greenspring Station to Westview Mall
  • No. 36 Essex (Fox Ridge) to Towson
  • No. 51 Towson to Downtown (Inner Harbor)
  • No. 52 Stella Maris to GreenMount North
  • No. 53 Sheppard Pratt/Hillendale (Taylor Ave) to State Center via Alameda
  • No. 54 Hillendale/ Carney Park & Ride to State Center
  • No. 56 White Marsh Park & Ride to Downtown (Fayette Plaza)
  • No. 57 Belair-Edison Shuttle
  • No. 59 Whispering Woods to Moravia via Baview
  • No. 62 CCBC Essex to Turner Station
  • No. 63 Inner Harbor/Hopkins Baview to Tradepoint Atlantic (Sparrows Point)
  • No. 65 Downtown (Fayette Plaza) to CCBC Dundalk via Amazon
  • No. 67 City Hall to Marley Neck
  • No. 69 Jumpers Hole to Patapsco
  • No. 70 Annapolis to Pataspaco
  • No. 71 Patapsco to Lexington Market via Cherry Hill
  • No. 73 Patapsco to State Center via Greyhound
  • No. 75 Parkway Center / Arundel Mills to Patapsco
  • No. 76 Downtown to UMBC & CCBC Catonsville
  • No. 77 Catonsville(Rt. 40 & Rolling Road) to West Baltimore MARC
  • No. 78 CMS to City Hall
  • No. 79 CMS to Mondawmin
  • No. 81 Deer Park Plaza to Millford Mill Metro
  • No. 83 Old Court to Mondawmin
  • No. 85 Milford Mill to Penn North
  • No. 87 Glyndon to Owings Mills
  • No. 89 Red Run Blvd / Owings Mills to Rogers Metro Station
  • No. 91 Mondawmin Metro to Siani Hopistal
  • No. 92 Glen & Key to Owings Mills Center
  • No. 93 Hunt Valley to Towson via Lutherville Light Rail


Fare collection methodsEdit

Prior to the summer of 2005, the MTA used an older fare collection system. Day passes purchased on buses were printed out by a separate machine from the bus fareboxes. It was possible to alter these passes so that they could used on other days and to sell them to other passengers or make duplicate passes and sell them to others for cheaper than the MTA's official fares. This was despite the fact that they were officially non-transferable.

The MTA has since installed new fareboxes on all of its buses that issue daily passes with magnetic strips; new ticket vending machines at Light Rail and Metro Subway stations issue identical passes including the weekly and monthly passes. Weekly and monthly passes are not sold on buses.[19]

The newer day passes can be used only on the appropriate day because the machine encodes the date and expiration time in the magnetic strip, which is read when swiped through the magnetic reader. Swiping the pass also sets a time waiting period on reuse so the pass cannot be immediately handed to a different passenger and used for free boarding. This also makes it difficult for passengers to use counterfeit passes when boarding the bus, Light Rail, and Metro Subway.

The MTA continues to struggle with passengers who purchase day passes, use them, then resell them at a direct loss to the agency. State employees who possess a Maryland State Employee ID card can ride MTA local bus, Light Rail, and the Metro Subway free of charge. Any state employee with the ID card can get a continuation ticket to get through the gates on the Metro Subway. For the bus, the person shows the state employee ID card to the driver when boarding. On the Light Rail, they have to show the ID card only in the event of a fare inspection while other passengers show their tickets. MTA employees can also ride free of charge if they carry their MTA employee ID card. [20]

The MARC Train service is preparing for the eventual integration with the regional SmarTrip smartcard-based fare system. The system will involve conductors using hand-held units to validate SmarTrip cards as well as the MTA's Maryland Transit Pass.

Maryland transit passEdit

The MTA plans to begin selling smart cards under the name CharmCard. These will be similar to, and compatible with, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's regional smart card system, the SmarTrip card.[21]

When the CharmCard system is fully implemented, it will be used not only on Maryland Transit Administration transit services, but will also be able to be used in Washington D.C. on all WMATA buses, the Washington Metro and on most local bus services in Northern Virginia. Likewise, the WMATA SmarTrip card will be accepted by the fareboxes used by the MTA.[22]

Special programsEdit

Baltimore City Public School SystemEdit

An agreement between the Baltimore City Public School System and the Maryland Transit Administration provided eligible BCPSS students (usually students who live outside a predetermined area surrounding the school) during a school year with a color-coded booklet of dated tickets each month and an identification card. The tickets allowed students to ride on MTA buses, light rail, and subway free going to and from school. The farebox was able to issue magnetic transfers to ticket holders who must use more than one bus. They were valid for 90 minutes of unlimited travel at the driver's discretion. In 2011, a new agreement was put in place for the students. Instead of the color-coded booklet, they were issued a monthly bus pass called an S-Pass. It's a bus pass that is valid for the given month from 6AM until 8PM. The S-Pass can allow students to ride and pass though an unlimited times through the Metro Subway gate, unlike the transfers from the color-coded booklet from in the past.[23]

MTA college passEdit

The Maryland Transit Administration has a special program set up with 24 Baltimore area colleges and universities which allows college students who are enrolled in a minimum of 6 hours per week can receive a monthly pass for $50.00.[24]

Participating collegesEdit

Police forceEdit

The MTA employs its own force of 150 police officers to protect the transit system and its passengers, the Maryland Transit Administration Police.


The following people have served as Administrators of the Maryland Transit Administration and its predecessor agencies.[25]

  • Walter J. Addison: 1969–1979
  • L.A. Kimball: 1979–1984
  • Ronald J. Hartman: 1984–1993
  • John Agro: 1993–1997
  • Ronald Freeman: 1997–2001
  • Virginia White: 2001–2002 (acting)
  • Robert L. Smith: 2002–2004
  • Lisa Dickerson: 2004–2007
  • Paul J. Wiedefeld: 2007–2009
  • Ralign T. Wells: 2009–2013
  • Robert L. Smith: 2013–2015[26]
  • Ronald Barnes: 2015 (acting)
  • Paul W. Comfort: 2015–2017
  • Kevin B. Quinn: 2017-Present[27]

Public transit lawsEdit

Section 7-705 of the Maryland Transportation article (Annotated Code of Maryland) enumerates a list of acts specifically prohibited on public transit vehicles, with penalties of fines and possible jail terms for violations. In addition to the enumerated rules of behavior, Section 7-705 also allows the MTA to enforce local government laws on public transit vehicles. Many of the rules are conspicuously posted on transit vehicles, bus stops and rail platforms. However, they are rarely enforced, making many unpleasant trips for those who actually follow these rules.


  1. ^ 2009 Annual Report Archived 2010-11-09 at the Wayback Machine.. Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2010-09-01
  2. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Second Quarter 2016" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association. August 22, 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-14 – via 
  3. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2015" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association. March 2, 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-19 – via 
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1]. Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved 2012-06-27
  6. ^ Dunn, Shannon. "SUSTAINABLE CITY, Shifting Gears: Safer Cycling in Baltimore". Urbanite Magazine. Archived from the original on August 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d "A Concise History of Baltimore's Transit". Baltimore Transit Archives. Archived from the original on 2002-04-08. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  8. ^ "Department of Transportation: Historical Evolution". Maryland Manual Online. Maryland State Archives. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Railroad Gauge Width". Паровоз ИС. Российский железнодорожный портал. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  10. ^ a b Bus Routes Archived 2010-08-26 at the Wayback Machine.. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-08-30
  11. ^ Express Bus Routes Archived 2010-08-15 at the Wayback Machine.. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-09-01
  12. ^ Commuter Bus Schedules & System Maps Archived 2010-08-26 at the Wayback Machine.. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-09-01
  13. ^ [2]. MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2011-10-01
  14. ^ "Light Rail Timeline". Transit Timelines. MTA Maryland. Spring 2012. p. 3. 
  15. ^ "Maryland Transit Timeline"[permanent dead link] MTA Maryland. Retrieved 2010-09-28
  16. ^ Taxi Access II Service Archived 2009-09-02 at the Wayback Machine. MTA Maryland pdf brochure, retrieved 2009-12-8
  17. ^ Dresser, Michael. "Hogan says no to Red Line, yes to Purple". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 5 April 2017. 
  18. ^ "BaltimoreLInk Brochure" (PDF). MTA Maryland. Retrieved 5 April 2017. 
  19. ^ "Introducing New Fareboxes on MTA Buses". Maryland Transit Administration. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  20. ^ "Maryland Transit Administration adds fare inspectors to prevent freeloaders". Transit News. 2004-07-22. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  21. ^ "Maryland Transit Pass". Maryland Transit Administration. Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  22. ^ GALE, ANDREW; IAN NEWBERG. "Maryland MTA: Growing the Nation's First Statewide-to-Regional Smart Card System". Mass Transit Mag. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  23. ^ "BCPSS FAQs". Baltimore City Public School System Office of Student Placement. Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  24. ^ "MTA College Pass Program". UMBC. Archived from the original on 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  25. ^ "2010-2011 MTA Media Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-04-22. 
  26. ^ Rector, Kevin (2015-04-21). "Robert Smith out as MTA administrator for second time as Hogan officials consider future". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-04-22. 
  27. ^ Dresser, Michael (2017-06-06). "Two weeks before Baltimore bus route overhaul, MTA chief is replaced". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2017-06-07. 

External linksEdit