• MARC passengers should be in the know!!

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by Bobby S
 
Thought we could start fresh here as it seems not too many people check this forum out (as they should). Maybe there is a way to reach the actual commuters who use these lines and have no idea they could get on a forum pertaining to their service and share their gripes/likes etc w others. I am sure they receive regular info from MARC but they should know about ways to connect with others and make things happen! Reaching out and demanding service seems to be in order. Works elsewhere, why not here? Could flyers be posted? Input?
  by gp40marc69
 
I'm a regular MARC commuter. I take both the Camden and Penn lines to and from Baltimore and Washington daily. I keep up with things on both the Amtrak and CSX side. I regularly carry my scanner everyday and have good connections with Amtrak crews and CSX crews.
  by DutchRailnut
 
This forum is basicly for railfans, off course commuters are welcome ,but by putting out newsletter it would turn this forum into a complaint forum were people believe the forum run by MARC.
or officially endorsed by MARC, and it is not.
  by realtype
 
I've been taking MARC for 4 years, and currently ride the Brunswick and Camden Lines from Germantown to College Park via WAS. I thinks its a great idea for commuters to talk about the inefficiencies at MARC (which there are many), but Dutch has a point about this forum being a "railfan" forum, but I'm open to the idea. The MARC Riders' Advisory Coucil (or whatever it's called) seems like a better bet to get MARC to hear our woes.

I admit must admit though, the MTA has been getting much better about getting info out to passengers in recent years. The email system works very well, and is timely unlike the previous one. Just recently I was getting so many cell phone alerts (upwards of 20 on some days), I had to restrict the less important alerts to my email. I also, send emails to the MTA every once in a while, and lately the responses have been more detailed, and sound like they were written by someone who actually knows what they're talking about. The MARC Tracker system works like a charm and is THE BEST customer service improvement I've seen from the MTA. The accuracy is astounding, and it easily works on my cell phone. The in station LED displays are another story, MARC recently changed some of them on the Bruswick Line and they still don't work. The one at Germantown was actually working fine until they changed it, and now it's blank. The one at Metro. Grove has been out for at least a year and a half. THe MTA says they're using the stimulus money to install (for the 3rd time) an all new system, so we'll see.

I always wonder about the people that don't get the emails though. For instance, MARC sent out an email today saying the last train on the Penn line was at 8:40pm. Suppose a commuter who didn't get the alerts stayed behind in DC to go to a bar or something, and lived in Odenton. He'd be screwed. Also, the MTA's policy of telling the WMATA to accept MARC tickets, as if that "solves everything" since all MARC commuters must live in Silver Spring, Gaithersburg (Shady Grove), Greenbelt, College Park or, New Carrolton, is kind of ridiculous
  by Ken S.
 
DutchRailnut wrote:This forum is basicly for railfans, off course commuters are welcome ,but by putting out newsletter it would turn this forum into a complaint forum were people believe the forum run by MARC.
or officially endorsed by MARC, and it is not.
And the NJT section is often used for what? Sideswipe, Stalker conductor ring any bells. :-D
  by DutchRailnut
 
yup and all without inviting the General Mutants via a newsletter.
  by HokieNav
 
realtype wrote:I've been taking MARC for 4 years, and currently ride the Brunswick and Camden Lines from Germantown to College Park via WAS. I thinks its a great idea for commuters to talk about the inefficiencies at MARC (which there are many), but Dutch has a point about this forum being a "railfan" forum, but I'm open to the idea. The MARC Riders' Advisory Coucil (or whatever it's called) seems like a better bet to get MARC to hear our woes.

I admit must admit though, the MTA has been getting much better about getting info out to passengers in recent years. The email system works very well, and is timely unlike the previous one. Just recently I was getting so many cell phone alerts (upwards of 20 on some days), I had to restrict the less important alerts to my email. I also, send emails to the MTA every once in a while, and lately the responses have been more detailed, and sound like they were written by someone who actually knows what they're talking about. The MARC Tracker system works like a charm and is THE BEST customer service improvement I've seen from the MTA. The accuracy is astounding, and it easily works on my cell phone. The in station LED displays are another story, MARC recently changed some of them on the Bruswick Line and they still don't work. The one at Germantown was actually working fine until they changed it, and now it's blank. The one at Metro. Grove has been out for at least a year and a half. THe MTA says they're using the stimulus money to install (for the 3rd time) an all new system, so we'll see.

I always wonder about the people that don't get the emails though. For instance, MARC sent out an email today saying the last train on the Penn line was at 8:40pm. Suppose a commuter who didn't get the alerts stayed behind in DC to go to a bar or something, and lived in Odenton. He'd be screwed. Also, the MTA's policy of telling the WMATA to accept MARC tickets, as if that "solves everything" since all MARC commuters must live in Silver Spring, Gaithersburg (Shady Grove), Greenbelt, College Park or, New Carrolton, is kind of ridiculous
It's funny you should mention that, since the email that they sent out listed every train that was going to run (everything from the 4:24 to the 6:40 and then the 9:00), and specifically noted that the 10:30 train was NOT going to run. So of course last night is the night that I'm stuck in the office until 6:30, and arrive at WAS to catch the 7:30 train which is listed as "on time" until 7:25 when it switched to "cancelled". I jumped on the last Camden line train and my Fiancee was able to come and pick me up at Savage and drive me back to Odenton to pick up my truck. There were a good number of cars left in the lot, so it's a pretty fair bet that some folks either got stranded in town or had to have someone come to New Carrollton or Greenbelt to pick them up.

Outside that, everything that you've said is spot on - I've been riding every day for two years, and intermittently to my previous job for the 2 years before that. The MARC Tracker works 95% of the time, but the LED signs are horrible - at Odenton the LED on the southbound tracks works, but the Northbound one only displays "***MARC STATION ODENTON***" endlessly (and with the offset platforms, you can't read the s/b sign from most of the n/b platform).

As far as this being a more rider-oriented vice railfan-oriented forum, I certainly think that there is room for both perspectives and conversations to happen here. Just yesterday I was talking with a Brunswick line commuter about his trip earlier in the week where his train broke down, then the rescue train broke down and left him standing at a station halfway home waiting for the next train with some space to continue on his journey. When I mentioned that the new locomotives would be coming online in the next few weeks, he was amazed that I knew of such a thing. Sure, he'd seen the paragraph in "On Your MARC" 6 months ago that said that they were going to arrive in the winter (wasn't that the originally advertised date?), but I sent him a link to the thread here where the "real" up to date info , which he greatly appreciated. Other times, I overhear folks complaining about the service stating things as facts that I know to be untrue from reading here. While I don't think that it's feasible that the thousands of daily commuters read and post here on a daily basis, the ability of folks like us to observe, report and share information tops what the MARC PR department could ever hope to do. Overall, more informed commuters are happy (or at least less unhappy) if they know the reasons behind why the trains are all screwed up.

Perhaps if this isn't the place, then the suggestion should be made to MARC for MARC to start their own forum for folks to discuss the service, and have it actually read by and responded to from MTA employees and MRAC folks.
  by realtype
 
Coincidentally, MARC released the April 2009 Newsletter today. It has information about the installation of the QuickTrak machines (what MARC calls SST's), a Recycling program, LED station display replacement, and how MARC is spending its stimulus funds.

btw Does anyone know if they are building high platforms at Laurel? It sounds like they're doing a whole lot of work to just build low platforms. I'm not sure how that would work with CSX freight trains passing through the station though. The only other high platforms on the Camden Line are Greenbelt, Camden, and of course Union Station.
  by Matt Johnson
 
realtype wrote:btw Does anyone know if they are building high platforms at Laurel? It sounds like they're doing a whole lot of work to just build low platforms. I'm not sure how that would work with CSX freight trains passing through the station though. The only other high platforms on the Camden Line are Greenbelt, Camden, and of course Union Station.
I take it they don't use the gallery cars on the Camden line?
  by realtype
 
Matt Johnson wrote:
realtype wrote:btw Does anyone know if they are building high platforms at Laurel? It sounds like they're doing a whole lot of work to just build low platforms. I'm not sure how that would work with CSX freight trains passing through the station though. The only other high platforms on the Camden Line are Greenbelt, Camden, and of course Union Station.
I take it they don't use the gallery cars on the Camden line?

Nope, only on the Brunswick Line (and not the Frederick Branch since Monocacy has a high platform). About a year ago though, I once rode a 4 car train on the Camden Line that had a single gallery car (the set had just come from Brunswick on a train that nevery uses gallery cars). It was an reverse flow train so they usually only use two cars, and that day they squeezed us into a single car since the gallery car was the 2nd car. Apparently they must have been running really low on single and normal bilevel cars, or maybe they were just "experimenting."
  by gp40marc69
 
They are supposed to be replacing the Gallerys with the 13 Kawasakis they bought from VRE. I would have thought they would have went to the Penn Line (which needs them badly). MARC should get maybe a few more bi-levels and do something with their singles. They need a facelift.
  by realtype
 
gp40marc69 wrote:They are supposed to be replacing the Gallerys with the 13 Kawasakis they bought from VRE. I would have thought they would have went to the Penn Line (which needs them badly). MARC should get maybe a few more bi-levels and do something with their singles. They need a facelift.
The single level cars (just the MARC IIB's) are currently being rehabbed by Bombardier in New York, 3 at a time. I think a few have returned, and are identical to the unrehabbed ones, except that the paint, seats are new (same exact design). They're really not that old since they were manufactured in the early '90s. The gallery cars on the other hand are ancient. I heard that Metra gave away some gallery cars to one of the Western startups (either Railrunner or Frontrunner) and they were in such poor condition that they were immediately scrapped.
  by Bobby S
 
I thank all for the replies but my intention of this topic was gearing up passengers to EXPANDED SERVICE. I know this was brought up in several topics. But what is the current state? I would love for updates... My Q's would be

1) WEEKEND SERVICE!!! A must for BWI/Military base workers. Would also benefit SPORT PATRONS!!! Think Raven/Orioles and Redskins/Capitols/Nationals... Visits with family to Baltimore and our nations capitol for all the cities provide!! We need this service!!! ESP us up here in Perryville!!!

2) Connection between Perryville and Newark DE??? ELKTON?? NORTH EAST?? Filling the GAP!! MANY NEED THIS!!!

3) Older station stops that could be utilized... Many have been un-used since 30's, 40's, 50's Any practicality to them being used again?

This is what I was getting at from the get-go.
  by realtype
 
Bobby S wrote:I thank all for the replies but my intention of this topic was gearing up passengers to EXPANDED SERVICE. I know this was brought up in several topics. But what is the current state? I would love for updates... My Q's would be

1) WEEKEND SERVICE!!! A must for BWI/Military base workers. Would also benefit SPORT PATRONS!!! Think Raven/Orioles and Redskins/Capitols/Nationals... Visits with family to Baltimore and our nations capitol for all the cities provide!! We need this service!!! ESP us up here in Perryville!!!

2) Connection between Perryville and Newark DE??? ELKTON?? NORTH EAST?? Filling the GAP!! MANY NEED THIS!!!

3) Older station stops that could be utilized... Many have been un-used since 30's, 40's, 50's Any practicality to them being used again?

This is what I was getting at from the get-go.
Well, to answer all your questions simply: MARC/MTA is broke. Elkton and Newark (with connecting SEPTA service), and weekend service which should have started last summer are all in the works, but not anytime soon, thanks to the economy.
  by gp40marc69
 
As for weekend service, that's a little bit iffy given the amount of trains that are running now and having to combine both MARC and Amtrak schedules to find the right amount of trains to operate during a given period of time. Plus, the competition thing. MARC monthly and weekly pass holders already have the benefit of riding certain Regionals on weekends (which is a plus). I think weekend service would be nice, but I feel there might be so much red tape and bs to clear up first on both the state and Amtrak's part.