Baltimore City Students Dissatisfied With Transit Services

A CityLink MTA bus. Photo by Scott218, via Wikimedia Commons.

Baltimore city public school students accounted for nearly a fifth of the Maryland Transit Administration’s annual bus, light rail, and subway ridership before the pandemic, but transit presents an assortment of challenges for these students, according to a new report from the nonprofit. Educational Excellence Fund.

In 2020, the nonprofit surveyed 274 Baltimore City students from 32 high schools and 130 neighborhoods about their experiences of traveling to and from school for a report titled “NOT IN SERVICE: Why Public Transit Should Aim to Serve Students”.

Some students have walked, driven, or been driven to or from school by a family member, friend or carpool service. But most relied on public transport, mostly MTA buses, according to the report.

About 29,000 middle and high school students in the city, or 73% of the population of middle and high school students in the school system, use the MTA’s public transport services to get to school, extracurricular activities, internships and courses. jobs.

But high school students interviewed for the report said they faced inadequate public transport links to their homes and schools, long commutes, unreliable service and fears of violence and harassment.

The report details how the legacy of redlining in Baltimore perpetuated inequalities in the quality and access of public transportation for black and brown communities compared to their white counterparts.

The Hogan administration’s cancellation of the Red Line Project, which was supposed to increase jobs and development and improve environmental sustainability, also led to further divestment in Baltimore’s black and brown communities, according to the report.

Of the students surveyed for the report, 68% said they felt safe on their way to school. Still, many are wary of the potential dangers along their route.

A student, who lives in West Baltimore, takes MTA buses to and from Baltimore City College.

She said she leaves her house at 6:30 am most of the time to get to school before the 7:55 am opening bell. But if she leaves the house a little later or if her buses do not work. don’t arrive on time, she is often late for school.

She has estimated that she is late for school 15 days a week.

“[My first quarter] I missed [first period] everyday… In fact, I was missing a lot that my grades started dropping really low in my first period, ”said the Baltimore City College student.

The student is not participating in after-school drama and debate clubs as she would like because she does not feel safe on the bus at night.

A Patterson High School student said she woke up at 6:00 a.m. and left her house at 7:14 a.m. to catch her bus.

She estimated that she is late for school three days a week. On days when the weather is too bad to wait outside, she skips school altogether.

“[O]But by this time for an hour and thirty minutes to get to school, it’s just too much, ”she said.

Several students said they felt unsafe around older men on the bus who looked at them, touched them or spoke to them in a vulgar or unwanted manner.

“You can’t be pretty on the bus… you can’t have your hair done. You can’t even put on makeup… They’re trying to talk to you or sit next to you and face you, and I just don’t like that, ”said a student from Vocational and Technical High School from Mergenthaler.

A student at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy said she was the victim of theft.

“If I know I’m going to be away for a long time, if I’m waiting on the bus or whatever, I really try not to be on the phone so much and be aware of my surroundings,” a- she declared. . “[I] try to keep all my things on me, as i had a few accidents coming from school as i got robbed.

Students who were interviewed for the report recommended increasing the number and frequency of buses, and improving the accuracy of the TransitApp that MTA riders use to track bus and train services.

They also suggested adding more shelters and better lighting at bus stops, and allowing bus operators to be more lenient with students who have lost their OneCard or left it at home.

Marcus Dieterle
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Melvin Z. Madore