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Charm City Circulator Offers Free Downtown Travel Options

The quickest way across campus, and to distant points in the city, has changed with the debut of the Charm City Circulator (CCC). The fleet of free shuttle buses began service at midday Jan. 11.

The buses operate along key routes downtown, starting with an east-west run that passes through the heart of the University of Maryland, Baltimore and its BioPark. The Orange route serves nearly a dozen stops on or near campus on both sides of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The first of three planned routes, it stretches from Hollins Market in West Baltimore as far east as the neighborhoods of Little Italy and Harbor East.

"It's a valuable asset compared with previous shuttles we've had. It expands service for staff and students. They can go to the harbor for lunch and not worry about parking downtown," says H. Tony Green, Coordinator, Transportation Demand Management and Customer Service.

Buses are scheduled every 10 minutes. During winter months, they run Monday-Thursday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Friday from 6 a.m. to midnight, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight, and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Stops are noted with signs labeled Charm City Circulator and the stop's name.

The new ride enables the University to discontinue its Ride UMB/BioPark Shuttle, the service that had taken passengers from the transit bay on Baltimore Street near the University of Maryland Medical Center on a loop with the BioPark garage as its westernmost point.

The hybrid vehicles are distinctive, zero-emission buses that will carry a larger number of passengers than the previous shuttles. But the operator remains the same. Veolia Transportation has the CCC contract, which is funded by the Downtown Partnership and others, including UMB.

Some stops will not be activated immediately because of additional work that the city must compete. For example, one near the Gudelsky Building at Greene and Lombard Streets will not be ready for four to six weeks.

For eastbound passengers, that means a stop labeled "Univ. of Md. Medical Center" at Baltimore and Greene Streets is the last point to get off before the CCC leaves campus for points east. To resume riding the CCC westbound and return to the BioPark Garage, a rider could walk to a stop at Lombard and Penn Streets near Health Sciences Facility II. The stop marked "Univ. of Md. BioPark Garage" on N. Poppleton Street is the last place to get off a westbound bus before it heads farther west to Hollins Market.

One of the first riders was Kay Campbell, front desk operator at Independent Dialysis Foundation on Hollins Street. She says she boarded at a BioPark stop on Fremont Street at lunchtime and reached Pier 5 on Eastern Ave. in less than 15 minutes. "It's so exciting," she says.

The service is not exclusive to the UMB campus, but the university's police will be prepared to respond to any problems that might occur on campus. For safety, the buses have on-board cameras as well as exterior coverage by the city's security cameras on a majority of the route.

Eventually, the CCC will consist of a 21-bus fleet. One planned route would connect the Cross Street Market area with Penn Station; another would link The Johns Hopkins Hospital with Fells Point and Harbor East. For information on the Orange Route, go here. Go here to read about the CCC.

Posting Date: 01/11/2010
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu