For students without cars, nearby opportunities are a world away

Compiled by the Retriever Weekly Senior Staff

For UMBC students without cars on campus, public transportation can be a godsend. MTA buses, the Light Rail and the Metro open broader areas of Baltimore up to students who would otherwise be unable to enjoy the sights and resources of Charm City.

While students’ access to Baltimore is relatively good — and could eventually get better thanks to the proposed Baltimore Red Line — students have been calling for greater transportation options to places like UMD and Washington DC for years.

It is virtually impossible to get to UMD without a car, and getting to Union Station in DC takes two buses, a commuter train and at least $20 in bus and train fare.

A better transit system to Washington DC would allow for greater pre-professional opportunities such as internships, jobs and volunteer work. For many UMBC students, Washington DC remains a great, untapped resource for jobs and internships purely because the lack of transportation options is prohibitive.

While Baltimore certainly has a plethora of interesting cultural landmarks and museums, it pales in comparison to Washington DC’s seemingly endless collection of attractions. Students would benefit from having a quick and easy way to take day trips to the capital.

Some students have suggested a shuttle between UMBC and UMD, which would allow for greater social interaction among students from both campuses. As it stands, UMBC students who want to visit friends and take advantage of UMD’s nightlife have to take a car and either have a designated driver or find a place to stay at UMD. The same holds true for DC’s nightclub scene.

If more public transportation options were available, students would not only have greater access to more attractions, but they would also have safer and more reliable methods of transportation to and from parties, clubs and bars.

The fact remains that no such options are currently available. Perhaps if students banded together, we could convince UMBC Transit or another service to institute a shuttle route between UMBC and UMD. A survey is travelling around the student body now, trying to make that happen.

In the meantime, the planning of a new east-west Light Rail line is underway that could make parts of Baltimore more easily accessible.

The proposed Baltimore Red Line would stretch 14.1 miles from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to the Bayview MARC station and would connect to Light Rail, MARC and Metro stations.

Construction is set to take place between 2015 and 2021. While current UMBC students probably won’t be around to reap the benefits of the construction project, future residents of the campus and surrounding areas would be able to enjoy a greater ease of access to places like Canton, Fells Point and Brewer’s Hill.

Although the Red Line’s route wouldn’t fall near UMBC, students could take a number of buses — such as the MTA’s route 35 to White Marsh or UMBC Transit’s Downtown A/B line — to the Inner Harbor and catch the Red Line there.

Public transportation is a great asset for students, and for some, a necessity. Taking advantage of that is important, but more important than that is making our interests known. Either way, it’s bound to grow, and students will over time have access to more and more places in the area.