Baltimore's MTA bus operation of today is still filled with many little odd and quirky operations that make it unique. Some of these are remnants of former Suburban operators, while others are neat little historical relics of the long-gone BTC days. Still others are more recent inceptions that may seem odd to the outsider, but seem perfectly at home here.
While some of these anamolies don't serve all that much of a practical use, others don't appear as often as needed to make the service flow more smoothly. Still others offer a well balanced level of service to today's MTA.
Any mention of MTA's anamolies would not be complete without mentioning the neat handful of loops that are unused in the current schedules, or used only for school trippers. Many of these date to Streetcar or Trackless Trolley days and remain company property to this day. These include Fulton and Druid Hill on the 1 line, Catonsville Junction last used by the #2, Dundalk on the #10 line, Morrell Park on the #11 line, the real Windsor Hills loop of the #15 line, West Baltimore Street on the #20 line, Liberty Heights on the #22 line, Roland & University on the #27 line, Cedella Avenue on the #44 line, Monroe Street on the #51 line, as well as Fairfield and Coast Guard on the #64 line, as well as Park and Ride lots at Rosedale and Providence Road. While some of these loops see some emergency cutback service, others such as West Baltimore Street have not been used in years.
Here, then is my compilation of the TOP 20 of today's MTA Anamolies:
Rank: Operation: Reason: 20 8 - INNER HARBOR In a day when most radials only have one Downtown terminus, the INNER HARBOR turn of the #8 seems a bit of a mystery. By its routing, it misses the bulk of the rail transfer traffic commonly found going to and from the Arena. Yet it persists as one of the best kept secrets to alert #8 line riders who like riding with less company on board. 19 M1 - BUCKINGHAM ROAD
M1 - GWYNN OAK JUNCTION
While most feeder routes in most cities are often free of short turns, Route M1 provides not just one but three, two of which are neat! The Gwynn Oak service is often used as a supplement for Forest Park High School, while the Buckingham operates only on a couple peak trips. Both are relics of the M1's descent from the old #28 line. 18 19 - HARFORD & HILLEN The shortest of any of the short turns of Baltimore's radial lines, the Hillen Road bus was an emergency measure taken in 1987 when the original intended cutback, Harford and Parkside drew instant criticism from residents there. It still remains in operation every weekday, frustrating many #19 line riders who desire to travel further. 17 31 service VIA LEEDS Certainly the road less travelled, the Leeds Avenue operation has seen a gradual phasing out, not operating late nights and weekends now, but still carrying about 50% of the base service trips on weekdays. Certainly, the more desired branch to operate among #31 line Operators. 16 M3 ALL NIGHT SERVICE The only feeder bus to operate true all-night service came about in September of 2001 when the end of route #5 was established at Mondawmin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The needed result was this odd feeder from Penn-North to Slade Avenue, using 2 coaches, and having some healthy layover time! 15 27 from HOWARD & 25th STS. Two early morning trips seem odd as both are based from Northwest Division, many miles away. It would seem more appropriate to start them from 27th Street at the least, if not Cold Spring Lane to handle more patrons. Still this origin is interesting as the intersection was home to a streetcar barn until 1947, where it would have been a natural for an origin point. 14 11 service VIA RUXTON The last remnant of a once-extensive Lutherville and Towson operation of McMahon Transportation. The service still carries a handful of riding faithful on it's one reverse commuter round trip using Bellona Avenue through Ruxton, where no bus stop signs are ever encountered. 13 3 MORGAN STATE The Bears of Morgan State contribute a sizable amount to the ridership of the #3 line, yet this operation is odd because it's only offered in the morning time. To return towards Downtown, students must make the walk back up to Loch Raven Boulevard. 12 ROUTE M12 Interesting relic of Suburban Transit and Old Court Transit's van operation which ran until 1973, this operation, once threatened in 1992, still manages to attract riders, mostly reverse commuters. The service has seen operation under the guises of many designations under MTA, including the 5, 5A, 58, 60, P2, P3, and P5. 11 67 PIMLICO-METRO SHUTTLE If you call the MTA and ask for the #67's schedule, you're likely to be greeted with a blank reply, yet the #67 carries hundreds of riders daily. Yet, this word-of-mouth bus running between the Race Course and Rogers Avenue Station offers no paper trail for the public to be made aware of it. 10 23 WILSON POINT
23 VICTORY VILLA
and VIA HAWTHORNE service
Remnants of the long defunct Rosedale Passenger lines, these services, once operated as shuttles persist as peak extensions of route #23 operated 6 days a week. Of all three, only the Victory Villa bus carries a sometimes substantial ridership, mostly reverse commuters, since it's 1/2 mile extension to Pulaski Industrial Park. 9 33 MONTEBELLO looping For some years, this was the farthest East the #33 went, before an extension of the service to Moravia, which started only in Peak Hours, and gradually became used almost exclusively. Still, about 3 AM trips still use the Montebello Loop, which includes a mile-long portion of Coldspring Lane Westbound between Harford and Hillen Roads that ONLY sees transit service for these trips - a very weird remnant. 8 ROUTE 102 Survivor of the experimental JET (Job Express Transportation) program inititated in the late 1960's, route #102 was more commonly known as the 7X for years, before its recent redesignation. Despite the passage of time, this often little publicized operation continues to carry a healthy ridership. 7 10 service VIA PRESIDENT STREET A fairly minor hiccup in the #10 line that often baffles it's riders, the President Street Service for years operated ONLY as a Westbound Service, before Eastbound service was finally offered starting in the early 1990's. This direct link to Little Italy still only operates on Weekdays however, and manages a handful of faithful riders. 6 3 HILLENDALE Despite only one AM trip, and two PM trips, the Hillendale 3 manages a very healthy ridership, often garnering a seated load of patrons or more before it's arrival with the mainline at Northern Parkway. It has operated in this light for years, yet the MTA has never seemingly never explored the addition of service to this branch, opting instead to force riders to use the #19 or #55. 5 ROUTE 86 Once a complete series of lines snaking from the Social Security Complex, this operation has been gradually pared down to a single line (originally the 86C) which has often been neglected to the point where one would accuse MTA of trying to kill it (it did try to in 1992). The line hangs on today, though not carrying the level of riders it once did. Admittedly, the service was a bit more interesting before it was rerouted, in its use of narrow Ridgewood Avenue in West Arlington. 4 ROUTE 50 The line with only one terminus once consisted of two opposing loops, but was pared down to use only the clockwise loop in 1989. Despite this, the #50 line remains a good preformer, it's 14 minute trips steadily feeding routes #5, 15, and 22. In it's earliest conception it was designated the U, but was numbered the #50 following the second World War, which it continues today, a testament to it's longevity. 3 64 MARYLAND DRYDOCK At one point, the Light Street line was home to a number of branches and extensions, such as Fairfield, Davison Chemical, and the Coast Guard Yard. The flight of much industry has pared these services down to only a couple of round trips serving the Maryland Drydock, a sad, far cry from the 90 second peak headways once required to serve the Fairfield Shipyards. 2 ROUTE 19A The only full fledged survivor of the McMahon Services, and the only MTA route to still be designated as a number followed by a letter, the Cub Hill service still maintains a loyal handful of riders to it's bizarre snaking routing that uses Charles Street, but ultimately winds up in Carney! 1 5 FEDERAL STREET
5 PATTERSON PARK & LANVALE
Two east side cutbacks on the same line, the first a relic of the long absorbed #27 streetcar/trackless/bus line, the other an adaptation of the original North and Gay loop of bus route #12 that was absorbed by route #5 in 1959. These cutbacks continue only in peak hours, though some late Saturday cuts are operated to the Lanvale Street loop. Federal Street is admittedly the neater of the two, with it's lengthy amount of route that sees service only in peak hours!
HONORABLE MENTION: These are not the only odd spots in MTA's bus operation, as several other as-needed operations deserve to be mentioned as well, including the 8 REVERSE LIMITED, 8 STELLA MARIS, 11 BEDFORD SQUARE, 13 SOCIAL SECURITY, 13 LOWER CANTON, 14 via MARLEY STATION ROAD, 15 PERRY HALL, 15 WESTVIEW, 19 JOPPA HEIGHTS, 19 WALTHER AVENUE, 20 MD. TRANSP. AUTH., 23 CAREY STREET, 27 BALTIMORE HIGHLANDS, 31 HALETHORPE INDUSTRIAL PARK, 36 WOODBOURNE, 44 BRIGHTON, 64 BROOKLYN HOMES, M1 BELLEMORE FARMS, M6 WOODLAWN, and M6 via COMPUTER CENTER.
RECENTLY DECEASED: In the past 20 years, the following services that were once "anamolies" have since vanished from the MTA operation, and may it be said that their passing (if not more for reason of their novelty) is regretted: 1 DRUID HILL PARK, 2 IRVINGTON, 3 BLUE CROSS, 3 LIMITED, 3 WALKER AVENUE, 4 SPARROWS POINT, 5 MORAVIA, 5 DAYBREAK & McCORMICK, 5 beyond MONDAWMIN,ROUTE 6 FORT HOWARD, 7 beyond MONDAWMIN, 8 MOUNT WASHINGTON, ROUTES 8B, 8D, and 8E, 9 SPRINGLAKE, 10 via DUNMANWAY, 11 MURRAY HILL, 11 MEDIX SCHOOL, 11 LUTHERVILLE, ROUTE 15A KINGSVILLE, ROUTE 16 ODENTON, 17 GIBSON ISLAND, 17 LONG POINT, 17 GREEN HAVEN, ROUTE 18 METRO FLYER, 19 McCLEAN BLVD., 19 PARKVILLE, 20 FOSTER STREET LOOP, 20 HILTON & FRANKLIN, 20 WEST EDMONDALE, 22 LIBERTY HEIGHTS, 22 LAKEWOOD & O'DONNELL, 22 via UNION AVENUE, 22 via GORSUCH AVENUE, 22 LUTHERAN HOSPITAL, 22 FALLS ROAD, 23 ESSEX (old street loop), ROUTE 24 PIMLICO PARK & RIDE, ROUTE 24 BROOKLYN SHUTTLE, ROUTE 26 PROVIDENCE P&R, 27 UNIV. PKWY., 27 MT. WASHINGTON, ROUTE 28, ROUTE 29 TIMONIUM P&R, ROUTE 30 FREMONT, ROUTE 30 HOLLINS FERRY, 31 GOODWILL, 33 MORGAN STATE, 35 OLIVER BEACH, ROUTE 43 (ORIG. 15A), 44 ROLAND AVENUE, ROUTE 44X NORTHERN PKWY, ROUTE 47 CHESWOLDE EXPRESS, ROUTE 48/49 SEET SHUTTLE, 50 VIA DUDLEY, 51 MONROE STREET (actually looping), 55 OVERLEA, 61 LIMITED, 61 MOUNT WASHINGTON, 61 UPLAND ROAD, ROUTE 62 MONUMENT STREET, ROUTE 63 RIVIERA BEACH, 64 DAVISON CHEMICAL, 64 COAST GUARD, ROUTE 66 WESTINGHOUSE, ROUTE 66 (ORIG. 44X), ROUTE 70 DOWNTOWNER, ROUTE 70 FALLSWAY P&R, ROUTE 71 HOPKINS SHUTTLE, ROUTE 73 MONET-BMA SHUTTLE, ROUTE 73 PENN STATION, ROUTE 86J (LATER 87) NORTH AVE, ROUTE 88 WHITE MARSH, ROUTE 96 METRO CLEAN UP, ROUTE 110 ESSEX-TOWSON, ROUTE 130 RANDALLSTOWN-TOWSON, ROUTE 140 SOUTHWEST P&R, ROUTE 170 ROSEDALE, ROUTE 220 MOUNTAIN ROAD, ROUTE 230 PARKWAY CENTER, ROUTE 240 PIONEER CITY, ROUTE M5 MOUNT WASHINGTON-TOWSON, M10 OLD COURT, ROUTE M13 BELLEMORE FARMS, ROUTE M15 RANDALLSTOWN-OWINGS MILLS, ROUTE M16 REISTERSTOWN, AND ROUTE M17 OWINGS MILLS MALL SHUTTLE.
Lastly, let me mention that I do enjoy all of these odd little hiccups in the MTA operation, and hope they do manage to survive and prosper, and are joined by other little quirky operations in the future!
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