Transit: MARC ridership registers all-time high

Three times in spring 2006, the average daily ridership on the Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC commuter rail lines surged above 30,000, the highest levels in MARC history, according to agency data.

Particularly strong gains on the Penn and Brunswick lines more than offset a slight decline on the Camden line. Looking back a decade, system ridership is up a 53 percent, with Penn Line growth over the last decade at 69 percent.

“MARC’s increasing ridership underscores a growing demand for transit options among commuters in Central Maryland,” said Greater Baltimore Committee President Donald C. Fry. Development of a fast, easy, and reliable regional transit system is among the GBC’s top priorities.

Daily and seasonal variations in demand make it difficult to correlate ridership with external factors, but the current growth is likely due to a combination of traffic congestion, housing development in Western Maryland and West Virginia, as well as D.C. commuters living in Baltimore, speculated Fry. Rising gasoline prices and the implementation of MetroChek, a program that allows employees to pay for transit fares with pre-tax dollars, may also contribute to increasing MARC ridership.

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