Friday, December 17, 2010

Response to comment on station notifications

A recent commenter asked:

How come the MARC train stations don't even have basic systems to alert riders and others to the status of trains? People are siting at the stations waiting for riders to arrive and have NO status of the trains? There are audio systems in the stations that used to be used to give status and are no longer used? A simple suggestion: put monitors in each station, hooked to Internet and have the control center update the status as each train proceeds through the difficult can this be?

The answer is that MARC is in the process of solving this problem to a degree. With the help of stimulus funds, MARC plans to replace public address systems with LED sings at all of their stations save the ones run by Amtrak (Washington, New Carrollton, BWI, Baltimore, Aberdeen). The existing system is in need of replacement as it's 20 years old. As replacement parts are hard to come by keeping the old PA system operational is a struggle. The replacements will hit Brunswick first and then Camden and finally Penn, as the Penn line system is in the best shape of the three.

The new system will be linked to the MARC Tracker that alerts riders via text or email about delays. It will provide real time status updates, i.e. "Train 419 to Washington arriving in 3 minutes" much like the current system used by DC Metro subway stations. MARC staff will continue to update passengers about delays, so the system will not rely entirely on automation.


  1. "The new system will be linked to the MARC Tracker..."

    And that's another problem: the MARC tracker site has been having its own share of reliability issues lately.

  2. This is true, I'll inquire about it.

  3. Sorry to say but that is a poor answer. When it takes 20 years to determine the current audio system isn't working is part of the problem. It hasn't been working properly for the last 10 years that my wife has been riding MARC. I have complained in the past and nothing happens. The problem is the MARC system is being run by incompetent people...plain and simple. If the "Leadership" visited the stations they could have made this same determination in 10 minutes, not 20 years!!

  4. Another "BASIC" question. How come the bus services (several of them in Howard Co that allegedly feed into MARC) are NEVER coordinated with the MARC train schedule? Is it that the trains are never on time or the bus schedule is not coordinated with the trains? I believe there are at least two different buses I see every night at the Dorsey Station, but NEVER once does one "Actually Stop" at the station bus "Stop"....yes actually stop at the Bus stop. Wow...a novel idea...actually stop at the designated stop and wait for a scheduled train. Why do they call it a Bus Stop if the bus never stops there? Is this rocket science to have a coordinated "Transportation System"? Perhaps I should run for President, my ideas are so revolutionary? Should one ever consider riding the bus when it doesn't even stop for people coming off the trains? I have seen (on numerous occasions) trains just pulling up to the station in the evening, and the buses pull into the station parking lot, round the parking lot, and drive past all the commuters coming off the trains. It really seems as if they don't want passengers to link from MARC to the bus system.

    So MARC and Bus system officials listen up...please start using the brains you were given and create a coordinated schedule...It is of no surprise to anyone, why FEW riders coming off the trains DO NOT USE buses in Maryland. Simple "common sense" dictates that one have a coordinated schedule. If one part of the system doesn't work, the entire system is WORTHLESS!That is why you see EMPTY buses!! If the MARC and Bus officials can't figure how to solve this difficult task, then perhaps they should consider a career change in 2011.