MARC stations out of danger

County to offer incentives for new riders

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006

It appears the state has dropped its plans to eliminate two MARC train stations in northern Montgomery County that were threatened with closure early this year, before public outcry and emergency legislation forced a reprieve.

And county officials are working on incentives to entice more upcounty commuters to ride MARC trains.

In January, the Maryland Department of Transportation moved to close four MARC stations in the state, including the Boyds and Dickerson stations on the Brunswick Line.

But in a letter to state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown, Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan made it clear there are no pending plans to re-target the stations for closure.

‘‘I’m fairly confident that the MARC stations are going to remain open,” Garagiola said.

Garagiola wrote Flanagan asking about the status of a report required under emergency legislation passed in March that mandated the threatened MARC stations remain open while their closure was studied.

Flanagan responded that the Maryland Transit Administration had not started the studies because there were no plans for closure.

‘‘Currently, MTA is not planning to close any station on any of the railroad lines specified in the law, therefore the required studies have not yet been undertaken,” he wrote in his Nov. 17 response.

Garagiola sponsored the emergency legislation, which passed the General Assembly 135-1 and became law March 28. It directs the state Department of Transportation to answer a series of questions on the impact of the planned closings on commuters and other modes of transportation before eliminating the stations, including two on the Camden Line out of Baltimore, which have the lowest ridership in the MARC system.

The law set a Dec. 31 deadline for a report to be delivered to the General Assembly.

Since the law passed, county officials have created a brochure about MARC that will be mailed to residents in the Barnesville, Boyds and Dickerson areas, said Gary R. Erenrich, special assistant to the director for Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, in the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation.

‘‘One of the key features of the brochure is to give new MARC riders incentive,” Erenrich said Tuesday. The brochures include instructions on how to receive a free one-week pass to ride the MARC train, he said.

The county is still researching ways to increase parking and bus services to the upcounty’s MARC stations, Erenrich said.