- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 16, 2001

FREDERICK, Md. When the 6:10 a.m. MARC train makes its maiden run tomorrow out of downtown Frederick, Jim Curtis will be aboard.
The new commuter rail service will let him snooze a little longer at home before leaving for his engineering job at the District's Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"I'll probably get up about 15 minutes later," Mr. Curtis said.
He is among 350 riders initially, and 800 eventually, who are expected to use the $56 million addition to the Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) system.
The extension of MARC's Brunswick line to Maryland's second-largest city promises less parking congestion at Point of Rocks, where many Fredericktonians catch the train, and more growth in downtown Frederick, where one of the two new stations is located.
For commuters, it means more options.
Mr. Curtis' typical commute begins when a family member drives him to a bus stop to catch the 5:50 a.m. shuttle to Point of Rocks. He knows most of his companions on the 16-passenger minibus, which is timed to meet the 6:18 a.m. train.
If the train is late, the travelers wait, sometimes in freezing weather, and grumble.
"'Round about January, you don't want to be standing out there," said Steve Burnett, who commutes from Frederick to his job as a public utilities specialist at the Federal Communications Commission.
The new route will take riders all the way from Frederick to Union Station, but Mr. Burnett won't be among them. That's because the 6:10 train he would take makes nine stops before arriving in downtown Washington at 7:45 a.m., too late for Mr. Burnett.
He said he will continue riding the 5:50 a.m. shuttle to Point of Rocks for a train that reaches Union Station at 7:25.
The other departures from downtown Frederick will be at 5:17 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. The trains will pull into the new Monocacy station, along Maryland Route 355 near Francis Scott Key Mall, five minutes later. Initial round-trip fares are $11.25 daily, $49 weekly or $164 monthly.
MARC may shorten the commute for Dawn S. Onley. It takes the technical magazine writer 45 minutes to two hours to drive daily to Silver Spring, a trip that will take no more than an hour and 16 minutes by train. And when her office moves to downtown Washington in early 2002, MARC will bring her practically to the front door.
Maryland Transit Administration spokesman Larry Jones said the agency will emphasize the Monocacy station's 800 free parking spaces, hoping to steer commuters away from the 272-space lot at Point of Rocks.
Jason Zarrella, who lives in Point of Rocks, said frustrated commuters park along Maryland Route 28 and in illegal spots around the station. "It's overcrowded; they need more spaces," he said.
The downtown Frederick station has virtually no parking spaces. Mayor-elect Jennifer Dougherty said she hopes to change that, though, as part of her vision of the train station as the hub of an expanded business district.
A planned, but not yet funded, project that would link the station directly to an Interstate 70 ramp will bring many more travelers into the eastern end of Frederick's downtown historic district, she said. Eager developers already are creating modern residential quarters in some of the area's old brick buildings.
"I view it as an opportunity for me," Mrs. Dougherty said. "The shops and services that grow up to serve the commuter traffic will be successful."
Two blocks north of the station at the Church Street Cafe, on the corner of Church and East, owner Trueman Bronson is thinking long term.
"I think the train is not going to have a lot of ridership for a while," he said. "The East Street extension is going to be the boom."
The Frederick spur may initially create more elbow room on other Brunswick line trains, but not for long. Mr. Jones said ridership on the line, which follows the Potomac River into the District, currently averages 5,500 people per day. Agency projections indicate there will be 800 more daily passengers by 2005 on the line, including the Frederick spur, he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide