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YOU TELL US: Should Baltimore Charge for Charm City Circulator?

The Baltimore City Council president suggests a small fee to ride the bus.

During a budget hearing Wednesday, Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young suggested that the Department of Transportation start charging a minimal fee for riding the Charm City Circulator.

The circulator is a free bus operated by the city that runs on a loop between Federal Hill and Penn Station.

Young said the city should consider charging for the bus, especially in light of other city agencies facing budget cuts.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, D-District 14, joked that she was fine with the service remaining free, as long as it was extended into her North Baltimore district.

KMP May 27, 2011 at 03:44 PM
I have used the Circulator many times and I have always had a great experience, even when it's been crowded or there's a lot of traffic. The bus drivers are always friendly and professional, and even the other passengers often seem to be friendlier and more polite. Charging fares would only slow down the service, which in turn would dampen the nice, more civil atmosphere of the bus (something that's hard to find on most forms of mass transit), and most likely ridership would decrease. Also, charging a fare would not even cover the operating costs. I think the Circulator should remain a free service as it encourages downtown employees, residents and visitors to use mass transit, leave their cars behind, and explore other parts of downtown without having to walk too far or drive a car, causing more traffic congestion and having to pay for parking.
Diamond Laroux May 27, 2011 at 03:46 PM
One of the most appealing aspects of the Circulator is the ability to hop-on and hop-off at leisure. I use the circulator multiple times a day; if I was required to pay for the service, I'd likely reconsider how often I ride the Circulator. In fact, a rider-fee could amount to the same cost as paying for a parking pass each month. It seems as though a huge benefit of the Circulator is keeping cars of the road, so adding a fee to me would discourage riders from using the Circulator over getting in their cars.
Charley May 27, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Keep it free! This is one of the few things the city has done in recent years that is a positive for the city. We pay enough in property taxes, we deserve to get something for our money (even though the money comes from parking garage fees). It makes living near and getting around downtown much easier. It save time and aggravation when I need to go downtown from South Baltimore (Federal Hill), and saves money on parking. It also helps to relieve congestion downtown, as it tkes many cars off of the street. Also, if one wants to go have a few drinks, they do not have to worry about drinking and driving. For that reason, the hours should be extended on weekends. The circulator also helps downtown businesses, as one can patronize them without worrying about where to park, or even if there is somewhere nearby to park. If I had to pay every time, I would be less likely to use it. It also saves me money on gas and wear and tear on my car.
George L. Peters Jr. May 27, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Keep it free. Baltimore needs to start focusing on vastly improving it’s basic quality of life services if it wants to thrive. You can throw millions of dollars at big development projects, but you can’t make people want to live or work here. Are you listening Stephanie? Jack? Things like free public transportation options, cheaper or free parking on nights and weekends, clean streets, bike and pedestrian friendliness, public safety patrols etc are the things that allow a city to be not just livable but vibrant. If you create the basic environment they will come and they will stay. Pro Tip: go get yourself a copy Sim City.
Mair May 27, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Probably not a great idea to charge council for parking spots since they do have 'expense accounts': http://media2.abc2news.com/photo/2011/05/12/baltimoreCityCouncil01.swf

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