By Megan Poinski
Commuters will be getting an easier ride to Washington, D.C. in 54 new multi-level MARC cars and on additional buses from Charles County, all approved by the Board of Public Works on Wednesday.
“MARC riders will be so relieved,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. He voted for the two contracts, as well as board members Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.
The new rail cars, which cost $153 million, will add about 3,000 new seats per trip, said Ralign Wells, administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration. Federal funds cover 80% of the cost of the new cars.
Once the new cars are built and delivered – which Wells estimated would happen in mid-2013 – MTA will retire 26 older cars, meaning that MARC will have a net increase of 16 cars.
The new cars, built by Montreal-based Bombardier Transit Corporation, will all have two stories and four doors, meaning that they will seat more people, and allow passengers to board and disembark more quickly. Current trains only have two doors, and some only have seats on a single floor.
“It will increase our reliability and capacity,” Wells said.
About 33,000 commuters rely on MARC trains daily, said Wells. The service is becoming so popular, MARC would have to add four cars a year to keep up, he said.
The new cars will be spread out among all of MARC’s routes, Wells said.
MARC’s new cars will be built using a basic model that was already procured and designed by New Jersey’s commuter railroads, said Wells. By getting the same cars that are already in production, manufacturing time and cost are reduced.
Candice Kelly, the president of the Charles County Board of Commissioners, presented the $2,243,277 proposal to expand the current contract with Hanover-based Dillon’s Bus Service for commuter buses between Charles County and Washington, D.C. It increases the state’s contract with Dillon’s to a total of $26,297,892.
The expansion adds 12 new “express routes” between Waldorf and Washington, D.C., a bus route that is getting more and more crowded. Kelly said that 62% of Charles County residents leave the county for work. The expanded routes will serve 800 more people, she said.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth,” Kelly said.