A few weeks ago, Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled a brand-new website dedicated to thinking about proposing to maybe solve some of the issues facing Baltimore City's public transportation system, calling the plan outlined on the MTA's BaltimoreLink website "incredible" and "comprehensive." While the web interface—a dazzling array of expandable (and, for that matter, collapsible) menu headers outlining changes to the current city bus system—presents a formidable amount of information, some components of the plan might be lost to confused citizens still trying to understand precisely how reducing the amount of local and commuter buses by about four-fifths will benefit a city the governor himself appears to occasionally forget about.
We here at City Paper gave up a whole Sunday to drop down every menu item listed on the BaltimoreLink website, highlighting a few key changes to Baltimore's local bus system that even the most eagle-eyed time-havers might overlook due to being blinded by sheer outrage. The Baltimore Sun quotes Transportation Secretary and former actual woodchuck Pete Rahn as saying, "Nearly every bus route is going to change in some way," and then, quickly, under his breath while walking the other way, "so I really wouldn't bother even trying to keep up, if you catch my drift."
The Flat-Earth Solution: Instead of continuing southbound into the city, the number 48 will penetrate the earth's crust at Greenmount and 33rd, sending riders deep into a taffy of swirling magma and suffocating gases. Hogan, a Flat-Earth-Firster since his Florida State days, remains certain that the 48 will simply pass from one side of the globe, or "the top," indicated by Rahn as he gestured using a Panera receipt by way of example, "which is where we are right now," to the other side, or "the bottom." Northbound 48 will become slowly obsolete as homes and businesses along the Greenmount corridor succumb to a transportation sinkhole leading directly to the molten core of our planet.
Uni-bus: There's just one bus, and it is extremely fast. It's, like, on a track or whatever, so it doesn't need wheels. Goes around in circles like a choo-choo, but pointy like an airplane. I'm hungry.
Bus-cycles: In this plan, riders receive their own individual wheeled personal transportation, allowing them the freedom of being left to their own devices against motorists, pedestrians, dogs, potholes, suddenly dead-ending bicycle lanes, and other bicycles. Note: The "bicycles" offered are "top-of-the-line, smooth-cruising, high-flying, pavement-carving rides," and sound suspiciously like Razor Scooters rather than real bicycles. Sponsored by Razor USA LLC ®.
The In Your Face, Stephanie: The houses on either side of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's property will be purchased and transformed into an active transfer hub, replete with ample public restrooms, large bus shelters, and safe Razor Scooter locking stations. Hundreds of LED flood lamps and blue-light cameras with increased flashing frequency ensure the security of this new transit axis. Riders of any of the 12 proposed routes stopping at this station will also enjoy frequent outdoor grindcore concerts, a complimentary disposable diaper recycling facility, and a thrice-yearly Sauerkraut Festival celebrating the Mid-Atlantic region's fermented foodways.
Transit Signal Remora Management: Based on the Transit Signal Priority proposal, whereby buses equipped with optical signal emitters will either prolong the length of green lights or reduce red lights to minimize route completion times. Because it is likely that motorists will cluster selfishly around city buses to take advantage of shorter red lights and extended green lights like a herd of parasitic sea creatures, Hogan's plan institutes a fee schedule based roughly off the popular toll payment program E-ZPass® Maryland. If motorists wish to drive within 500 feet of a CityLink bus, they must purchase the Transit Signal Emitter Priority Vehicle Pass™ components from a poorly-marked government office in a corporate business park way out on Reisterstown Road. Cyclists will be penalized through the Governor's Road-Smallening Program, in which buses will become wider and less frequent, sidewalks will be removed entirely and, as if by sheer force of will, every road in the city of Baltimore will be reduced to half its prior width.
The governor is offering a series of poorly timed and badly publicized workshops throughout Baltimore, several of which have already occurred. One of the primary aims of these workshops is to generate a list of useful color names because Orange, Purple and Green are already taken by the Charm City Circulator and, in the words of Rahn, "There's only so many colors." Concerned citizens can submit to the needlessly complicated Transit Improvement Plan Comment Form to let Rahn know that, grammatically speaking, the phrase is "There ARE only so many colors" and some of those other colors include, but are not limited to, chartreuse, ocher, burnt sienna, cobalt, puce, plum, black, gray, cyan, magenta, ecru, olive, saffron, pistachio, and teal. Second, images of possible colors or questions such as, "Are you basing city bus route plans on how many colors you can name in an hour?" should be posted at mtamaryland.mysidewalk.com. Finally, art students, graphic designers and parents can donate boxes of Color-aid colored paper, crayon stumps (wrapper on, please), or Pantone Chip Guides to PETE K. RAHN, Secretary of Transportation, Office of Secretary, Department of Transportation, P. O. Box 548, 7201 Corporate Center Drive, Hanover, MD 21076-0548.