Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a frequently asked question below to see the answer.
What is the Baltimore Red Line?
The Red Line is a proposed Light Rail transit project that will create the Baltimore region's first east-west rapid transit connection between west Baltimore County and east Baltimore City, connecting the areas of Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, Downtown, Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Campus. The Red Line could transform travel in the corridor with faster, more reliable service to the region’s job and entertainment centers as well as existing bus and rail services.
Is this the same as the Red Line in Washington?
No, the Baltimore Red Line is a 14.1-mile east-west Light Rail that will travel between western Baltimore County and eastern Baltimore City. The Red Line will connect to other transit in the Baltimore region, including the MARC Train that travels to Washington, D.C.
As is common for well-integrated transit networks, each of the six rail lines identified in the Baltimore Regional Rail System Plan was designated by a color. Red was chosen for the east-west line; green for the existing Metro Subway from Owings Mills to Johns Hopkins Hospital (and any future extension); blue for the existing Light Rail line; yellow for a new downtown line along the York Road/Greenmount Avenue corridor to Towson and Hunt Valley on the north and Columbia to the west; purple for the existing MARC Penn Line corridor and any improvements; and orange for the existing MARC Camden Line corridor and associated improvements.
Where will the Red Line go?
The Red Line will travel 14.1 miles between west Baltimore County and east Baltimore City, stopping at 19 proposed stations listed below. In addition to serving downtown Baltimore, the line will also reach key Baltimore institutions like the Social Security Administration, University of Maryland at Baltimore and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus, as well as local attractions such as the Inner Harbor, Gwynn Falls Trails, the historic communities of West Baltimore, as well as the historic Fells Point community.
To see a map of the station locations and to learn more about the station planning process, visit the Stations page.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- Security Square
- Social Security Administration
- I-70 Park & Ride
- Edmondson Village
- West Baltimore MARC
- Harlem Park
- Howard Street/University Center
- Inner Harbor
- Harbor East
- Fells Point
- Brewers Hill/Canton Crossing
- Bayview Campus
- Bayview MARC
Is the Red Line a "done deal"?
No. As with most public infrastructure projects, the Red Line project must go through a procedural and regulatory process (see the project schedule for more information). The Project recently achieved a significant milestone (February 2013), when the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Record of Decision, confirming the Red Line's eligibility for federal funds. This decision marked the end of a rigorous and extensive process to identify and mitigate impacts to communities, historic buildings and natural resources such as parks, wetlands and trees. There are still a number of steps that need to be taken in order to consider the project a "done deal," including State and federal funding for construction.
To this end, the Maryland General Assembly recently passed the 2013 Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act - focused on funding a balanced statewide transportation network, from road projects to transit projects. This provides the state funds necessary to advance engineering and take important steps toward preparing for construction.
What is the project schedule?
How much will it cost? How is the Red Line funded?
The Baltimore Red Line will cost $2.5 billion in “year of expenditure” dollars to build. “Year of expenditure” means that inflation has been taken into account. This cost includes construction of the tracks on the surface and in tunnels, rail cars, a maintenance building, and professional services like engineering, inspection, and insurance. The MTA will submit an application to the Federal Transit Administration for funding from its New Starts Program. If awarded, New Starts funding would pay up to 50-percent of the project. The State of Maryland would be responsible for the other 50-percent of construction costs.
Will property be needed to build the Baltimore Red Line?
The Red Line is being designed to avoid or to minimize property impacts to homes and businesses. By State law, there can be no involuntary residential displacements.
The majority of the Red Line will be constructed within the public right-of-way. In some cases small strips of property would be acquired so the road can be widened to accommodate both the Red Line and automobile traffic. In that case, property owners would be paid the value of their property using a process that is determined by State and federal law. For more information, including contact information for staff who can help you understand the process, click here.
In cases where commercial property may be required, the acquisition process would follow federal guidelines for commercial properties.
How will the Red Line connect to existing transportation options?
The Red Line would connect with:
- Light Rail at the Howard Street station
- Metro Subway via a weather-protected tunnel at the Inner Harbor Station
- MARC Penn Line at both the West Baltimore MARC station and the future Bayview MARC station
It would also connect with bus routes along the corridor and stop at five stations identified for Park and Ride lots. (See question "Will the Red Line provide parking?" below.) The Red Line will also accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians with safe and convenient access and connections to many stations.
Will the Red Line affect existing MTA bus routes/schedules?
Portions of the bus routes operating within the corridor parallel to the Red Line (e.g., bus routes 10, 15, 20, 23, 30, 40 and 150) would likely be modified to serve new Red Line stations. Those bus lines would become "feeder" routes, operating locally through neighborhoods and along major streets, serving Red Line transit stations so passengers can transfer to the faster Red Line. This is how some bus routes operate today in relation to Metro Subway and Light Rail stations. The rationale is that once the investment is made in the Red Line, a light rail transit line, the MTA should reduce redundant bus routes that parallel or duplicate service that the Red Line provides. Some local bus service would continue running along streets adjacent to the Red Line to serve local bus stops not convenient to Red Line stations. Bus routes outside of the corridor and those crossing the corridor (such as routes 1, 7, 11, 13, 16, 21, 22, 24, 30, 38, 44, 47, 51, 57, 77 and 160) may be modified, if appropriate, to serve an adjacent Red Line station and allow transfers between those routes and Red Line service.
MTA will hold public hearings on proposed bus changes when we are closer to completion of the Red Line, and we expect to refine the bus operations plan until opening day.
What will the Red Line hours of operation be?
Although the hours of operation for the existing transit system may change by Red Line operation year 2020, the projected hours of operation for the proposed Baltimore Red Line would be comparable to the hours of operation for the existing Central Light Rail. The current hours of operation of the Light Rail Line are:
- Weekdays – 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
- Saturdays – 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
- Sundays – 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
How frequently will the Red Line run?
The Red Line is projected to run every eight minutes during peak hours and every ten minutes during non-peak hours. The one-way travel time of the full 14.1-mile corridor – from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Bayview MARC – is 44 minutes. The final schedule will be determined in conjunction with cost and projected service demand.
How much will it cost to ride the Red Line?
The cost to ride the Red Line—as well as the fare for transfers to buses, the existing Light Rail and the Metro Subway—is a decision that will be made closer to the beginning of operations. However, we expect that the cost of a ride would be the same as the cost of riding the rest of the transit system.
Will the Red Line provide parking?
Parking would be located at several places along the alignment. These stations would provide commuters with easy access from interstate highways and suburban communities to a convenient parking area near the Red Line.
To date, the number of spaces below has been identified for Red Line park and ride stations. These numbers are subject to change based on engineering revisions:
- Security Square Mall: 400
- I-70 Park & Ride: 803*
- West Baltimore MARC: 638
- Brewers Hill/ Canton Crossing: 317
- Bayview MARC: 500*
*Can be expanded in the future if necessary.
Will the Red Line create Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)?
"Transit-Oriented Development" is walkable, mixed use development centered at a transit station. TOD would be a desirable outcome of the Red Line because walkable neighborhoods mean less driving which reduces regional congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Walkable communities accommodate more healthy and active lifestyles. Potential for added value is created through increased and/or sustained property values where transit investments have occurred. Access to jobs and economic opportunity are improved for all skill and income levels. Mobility choices are enhanced with reduced dependence on the automobile which improves air quality and also reduces transportation costs for citizens, freeing up household income for a variety of other productive purposes.
For these reasons, transit often adds value to properties and encourages new development. In many cases communities seize the opportunity presented by a new transit system to leverage the potential for planned growth that brings more services, jobs and residences to neighborhoods within walking distance of transit stations.
MTA is partnering with Baltimore City and Baltimore County to look for opportunities for TOD.
Will the Red Line create jobs?
Yes, the Red Line is expected to create both short and long term employment.
Job opportunities for the Red Line will fall into two categories: new jobs and better access to existing jobs. In public works construction projects of this magnitude, contractors rely heavily on the local labor pool to help build it. Both skilled and unskilled labor will be necessary. In order to maximize job opportunities for local businesses and residents, MTA is working with local training agencies to make sure residents have opportunities for training well before hiring takes place. To learn more about the MTA's Workforce Development Initiative, please view the Workforce Development document.
Once the Red Line is built and open for service, MTA would have new positions in operations and maintenance. This can include a wide range of jobs such as drivers, security personnel, and mechanics. New jobs also could result from re-development or new development near Red Line stations, particularly from Transit-Oriented Development.
Better access to existing jobs within the Red Line corridor also would occur. Major employers such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Social Security Administration and companies located downtown and at Harbor East would benefit from higher quality transit access and service. Residents who live within the corridor not only would have better access to jobs within the corridor but also to jobs accessible via connections to MARC, Light Rail, and Metro.
Will the entire project be built all at once?
At this point MTA is planning to build the entire line as a single project between 2015 and 2021 because this is the least disruptive and most cost effective way to bring better transit service to the corridor. If funding is not sufficient to accomplish this it would be possible to build the Red Line in phases starting with the downtown section and then completing the surface sections over time.
How long will it take to build the Red Line?
The Red Line is expected to be constructed between 2015 and 2021, but most areas of the corridor would only be under construction for a portion of that time. The schedule is created around what is called the “critical path” which is made up of work items that must take place before other work can begin. Work would start with excavation of the Downtown and Cooks Lane tunnels and downtown station boxes which will take the longest to complete. During that period the surface sections such as Boston Street and Edmondson Avenue as well as the maintenance facility will be completed. Construction will be mostly complete by late 2020, and is followed by a period of testing of the power and communications systems, elevators and escalators, and trains. Only after every system has been thoroughly tested will the line begin operation.
How many people are expected to ride the Red Line?
Over 50,000 riders will ride the Red Line each day by 2035. Ridership is estimated using a complex "travel demand model" which was developed by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council to support transportation planning in the Baltimore region. MTA made some technical improvements to the model so it would provide the detail needed for the Red Line, and the improvements were approved by the Federal Transit Administration.
What are the roles of the State of Maryland, Baltimore City and Baltimore County local governments?
The State of Maryland, through the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), has jurisdiction over planning, developing, acquiring, financing and operating transit facilities - buses, Light Rail, the Metro Subway, MARC, and the proposed Red Line. The role of local governments is advisory yet extremely important. Coordination among agencies is critical to the development and construction of the project. In order to secure federal transit funds for capital projects, consensus and strong support from local jurisdictions are essential. The MTA looks to the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Baltimore region - the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board - to coordinate transportation planning for capital projects such as the Red Line.
The importance of this coordination between state agencies, city agencies, as well as other public and private sector stakeholders is demonstrated in the Red Line Community Compact which calls on state and local jurisdictions to achieve maximum community benefits. To learn more about the Red Line Community Compact, please visit www.gobaltimoreredline.com.
How is the MTA involving the public in the Baltimore Red Line Project?
The Red Line is using a combination of outreach methods to communicate with community stakeholders throughout the project, including newsletters, social media, and a website.
The Red Line Community Liaisons serve as a direct link of communication between communities in the Red Line corridor and the MTA. They inform community members about the project and articulate communities' comments and concerns to the MTA. Community Liaisons are available to attend community association meetings, organizational meetings, or meet one-on-one to learn about stakeholders’ communities and organizations and their perspectives and concerns about the Red Line. Liaisons can also be found at many community events and festivals throughout the Corridor and Greater Baltimore Region.
To provide detailed input on specific stations, MTA mobilized more than 250 citizens and stakeholders to be part of Station Area Advisory Committees (SAAC), which met between October 2010 – June 2012. The SAACs, composed of residents, employees, businesses and other community stakeholders advised the MTA on station planning elements, such as station location and station design. The meeting notes, recommendation and vision and station design plans that the SAACs developed can be viewed via the SAAC link above. A streamlined version of the SAACs will continue to be engaged in the project.
Community members can also stay informed on the project by attending the Red Line Citizens' Advisory Council (CAC) meetings. CAC members are appointed by state and local elected officials. They meet on the second Thursday every other month at locations along the corridor. Meeting dates can be found on the CAC webpage by clicking the above link.
How can I learn more?
There are a number of ways to learn more about the Red Line Project. You can join our mail list to receive newsletters and other useful information about the project. You can also get contact information for the Community Liaison in your area.
You can visit our Resource Hubs along the corridor to retrieve Red Line information.