A tale of two cities’ transportation systems


With D.C. and Baltimore about 30 minutes apart by car or train on an exceedingly rare good day, residents of this region are lucky to have two very different big cities so close. Competing sports teams, unique cultures and a variety of food options. And it’s all so close.

Yes, Baltimore has a subway. No, I have never been on it. From Wikipedia.

Yes, Baltimore has a subway. No, I have never been on it. From Wikipedia.

A long sticking complaint has been that despite being neighbors, there is little integration between the two areas’ transit systems. We have two MARC lines that connect the cities, Amtrak and Greyhound as well as the B30 bus from Greenbelt to BWI. None of this is ideal. MARC would be more than fine if it ran on the weekends, but alas, that doesn’t seem probable any time soon.

Still, the CharmCard, a new MTA contactless fare card which will work with D.C.-area transit agencies, sounds like a step in the right direction. Even though service between the two regions is not yet adequate, at least payment for inter-city travelers won’t be such a pain.

Or so it seems. Somehow my eyes gravitate to the comments, where things always go downhill. Reader kungpow12:

In reality, when you get your card, you’ll notice that it’s a Smart Trip card with a Charm Card label over the Smart Trip logo.

You mean the same card that WMATA is going to run out of in two years? Is this some sort of a joke?

Washington, being an early adopter to this futuristic fare card that still can’t do daily passes, chose a proprietary SmartTrip vendor rather than wait to share the burden with other transit agencies. And now that vendor is going out of business.

How will this affect Baltimore’s “new” CharmCard? Are they going to run out of cards in two years? Is the reason WMATA is running out of cards because “The City That Reads” pilfered all our excess SmartTrip?

This all seems REALLY well planned out. It will be interesting to see how WMATA deals with this. If they can ever get over the embarrassment. Jim Graham:

“I think we should move off this agenda item. With every passing minute, it looks worse.”

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