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Light rail riders frustrated as indefinite suspension continues into new workweek: 'big headache'

Light rail riders frustrated as indefinite suspension continues into new workweek
Light rail riders frustrated as indefinite suspension continues into new workweek 02:27

BALTIMORE - Ravens fans flocked out of M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon all smiles following a thrilling 37-31 overtime win.

But as the crowds flooded out of the stadium, the MTA light rail was shut down for those who relied on that service. There were, however, shuttle buses in place to lift the fans to the stadium.

"The express shuttle was faster than the light rail usually is," light rail rider Leah Ward said.

The light rail was indefinitely suspended starting Friday because of mechanical issues.

"We had to hire a car to come down here because the light rail is not working," light rail rider Trevor Peter said.

With no timeline as to when the problems will be fixed, thousands of people who rely on the light rail are scrambling to find alternate transport.

Light Rail Alternatives: What you need to know 00:56

This light rail suspension will continue into the start of a new workweek, which will impact people all across our area.

Edward Vail, who takes the light rail every day to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport for work, told WJZ he is worried about his commute.

He also said he has several concerns, including the safety of the light rail following all of these mechanical issues, and that the public was given such short notice.

Light rail stations were empty on Sunday as the MTA continues to work to repair dozens of trains that have reported mechanical issues.

"This is going to be a big headache," Vail said. "It's going to add hours a day to my transportation and it's basically going to be a great inconvenience."

The MTA made the announcement on Thursday that all light rail services will be suspended indefinitely after they discovered high voltage conduits were punctured which caused a fire in October which injured a rider.

"When I saw that explosion," Vail said. "… Sometimes those cars are packed, absolutely packed, so what if it had happened at that time?"

Light Rail Fire blurred by MDOT MTA Maryland on YouTube

The MTA says they also found damage to machinery that connects the cars which caused six smoke events.

The shutdown impacts about 10,000 riders who are now relying on shuttles to get them where they need to go.

Vail told WJZ the abrupt stop in service and the reasons behind it need to be investigated.

"Why didn't they take a percentage of the cars offline and do a thorough examination?" Vail asked. "Who's in charge of light rail?" 

Vail says the first time he tried to ride one didn't go well.

"I went an hour early on Friday," Vail said. "It didn't come. I waited practically an hour and I had to take a taxi."

The MTA says once they have eight cars repaired they will reopen with limited service.

However, they have not given a timetable for that yet.

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