Schedule changes to the MARC train Brunswick line are not in the best interest of Montgomery County, according to Montgomery County Council members.
The Brunswick line runs from Martinsburg, WV, to Washington, DC, and serves approximately of 7,800 people. In order to reduce congestion and lag on tracks, MARC officials have announced an adjusted Brunswick schedule. To account for the adjustment, smaller stations on the line will have fewer departures.
The service reductions will do little good for Montgomery County, according to councilmembers Phil Andrews (D-Dist.3), Craig Rice (D-Dist.2) and Marc Elrich (D-At-Large).
“Given the level of congestion in the county, any level of reduction of transit service during rush hour is problematic and concerning,” Andrews said. “We need to maintain and increase transit service particularly during rush hour, not decrease it.”
Rice expressed concerns that the change may see county mass transportation efforts take a step backward.
"Having a change in how the schedule works means that it might force people to get back in their cars,” Rice said. "That's the last thing that we want to do."
According to Rice, the change may also put more pressure on the county to develop its own alternative transportation.
"It forces us to look at [Bus Rapid Transit] and ramp up the way we can get that done," Rice said.
The change may also have an impact on future county development.
“If the trains are not as frequent then it will become less attractive for building housing next to them,” Andrews said. “It certainly will be a concern for someone who might be moving there for that reason, or perhaps a developer who is counting on a train service as a draw for the project.”
Elrich, who doesn’t consider the MARC train a bastion of mass transit, anyway, says the county would be better suited to turning its attention away from building around on MARC service.
“The fact that they’re just cutting off more trains and the county has absolutely nothing to say about it, indicates that you’d be absolutely foolish to plan how much density you can have based on MARC,” Elrich said. “If we were sensible, we’d make sure we don’t make anymore plans predicated on it.”
The council transportation committee, headed by new Council President Roger Berliner, plans to send a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation seeking a fuller explanation of the rational behind the schedule changes. Berliner said the council would likely take a position on the matter after assessing the reasons behind the change.
The new schedule begins Jan. 30, and affects the following stations:
- Metropolitan Grove will lose two of nine eastbound trains and one of eight westbound trains
- Washington Grove will receive an additional eastbound train
- Barnesville will lose one of six eastbound trains
- Kensington will lose one of six eastbound trains and one of seven westbound trains
- Garrett Park will lose two of six westbound trains
- The service gap between eastbound trains would increase from one hour to one and a half hours for the Boyds and Dickerson stations.
- The service gap between westbound evening trains would increase from one hour to one and a half hours for the Boyds, Dickerson and Garrett Park stations.