Maryland transportation officials have nothing to say about running more MARC trains between Union Station and Frederick County.  That’s what state legislators and commuters learned at a recent public meeting in Germantown.

A MARC train at the Dickerson station. Image by Samual Ruaat on Wikipedia Commons.

Frederick County Delegate Carol Krimm led a group of state legislators in organizing a meeting to hear from the state officials about plans to help residents of northern Montgomery and Frederick Counties travel to jobs located closer to DC.

Delegate Krimm asked the Maryland Department of Transportation to address two topics: Governor Hogan’s recently announced plans to spend $100 million on I-270, and potential upgrades to MARC’s Brunswick Line, which serves the same corridor.

Greg Slater, chief planner for the State Highway Administration, talked for some time about the Hogan plan for I-270, but he was short on specifics. He said the state will spend $100 million on “innovative traffic congestion relief strategies,” but he couldn’t say what those will be. SHA plans to issue a Request for Proposals and see what ideas the bidders come up with.

Kevin Quinn of the Maryland Transit Administration followed, speaking at equal length on transit other than MARC. On the Corridor Cities busway and Montgomery County’s BRT planning, he simply recapped previous public presentations.

The one transit topic where new information emerged was investigations into running buses on the shoulders of interstates.  In many places, Quinn said, SHA had found obstacles like bridge pillars and roadbeds too weak to bear the loads, but it expected to soon locate a stretch of interstate for a trial of the concept.

Finally, MARC’s Erich Kolig gave a very short talk focused mostly on new equipment recently purchased by MARC. He said nothing about what the audience had come to hear about: what it would take to expand the Brunswick Line beyond the one-way rush-hour service now provided.  Most of the half-dozen legislators and 50-odd members of the public in attendance sported “More & Better MARC” stickers distributed by the Action Committee for Transit, which had leafleted train stations about the meeting.

MARC’s Brunswick Line. Map from MTA Maryland.

Legislators and the public peppered the visitors with skeptical questions, complaining of insufficient action on MARC and other fronts.  State officials answered inquiries about I-270 and Corridor Cities with detailed information about travel patterns and previously released studies.  But they said almost nothing in response to repeated calls for more trains. The most Kolig could offer was that cars with space for bicycles might soon run on the Brunswick Line on Mondays and Fridays.

Another meeting on this topic will take place early next year.