Monday, July 20, 2009

Inside MARC Mess at Inside Charm City

Inside Charm City's Jeff Quinton corralled the litany of this morning's delays and problems on the MARC system here. At least 16 service warnings went out this morning and that doesn't include a few other trains, which commenters said were also delayed without an explanation from MARC officials.

Hopefully this morning's MARC madness was an aberration or at least attributable to working out the kinks during the first day of a new schedule.

An MTA spokesperson would not field my question about the reason for the latest schedule change. Instead she sent me to customer information, where a very friendly customer service representative provided the most straightforward explanation yet: Amtrak. Just like when you're stalled on your morning commute in a dark tunnel until an Acela thunders by, Amtrak's responsible. The rep said that with the uptick in rail use, Amtrak regularly has to tweak its schedule to accomodate all varieties of express and nonstop trains. These changes force Amtrak's ugly stepson- MARC- to adjust accordingly. The rep lamented that in the good old days the schedule changes would happen twice annually, in line with daylight savings. With Acela's ridership up 6.5% for FY2008, schedule tweaks have also risen to three or four times a year.

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