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Light Rail riders brace for scaled-back schedules

BALTIMORE -- Starting next week, Light Rail schedules will be scaled back in the wake of staffing shortages.

The Maryland Transit Administration said beginning Sunday, July 10, weekday trains will operate on a modified Saturday schedule.

Trains will arrive every 15 minutes at a majority of stations and continue to alternate to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and Glen Burnie. During peak hours or special events, Light Rail will adjust to service demands by increasing trainsets to handle additional passenger volume.

The new schedule will be reevaluated in the fall based on operator availability.

Holly Arnold, head of the MTA, said the agency is "down about 26 Light Rail operators of the 79 that we need."

The delays with the trains, or trains not showing up at all, has made Kim Bailey late to work on numerous occasions.

"Several days this week. Some 40 minutes late, some 20 minutes," Bailey said.

William Hellmann said he's grateful to have an understanding employer because sometimes his train never comes, and without a car, he ends up being late, too.

"They need to figure out a system because we rely on this and the system is not working," he said.

Rider Mike Jones said he wants riders to have a heads-up when trains will be late or missing.

"The issue is they don't put out notices fast enough for people," he said.

MTA is trying to hire, train and retain more Light Rail operators. Previously, MTA tapped its employees working as bus drivers to operate the trains. Now, the agency is so short-staffed they welcome anyone to apply.

"We've doubled the number of training classes so we can bring more people from the outside and internally who want to go through training," Arnold said.

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