Photo by Scott218, via Wikimedia Commons

Hoping to mitigate delays for buses right at the outset of their routes, the city plans to install a traffic signal at the Maryland Transit Administration’s South Baltimore bus depot.

According to an agenda item for tomorrow’s scheduled Board of Estimates meeting, the signal would serve to “alleviate backups of the MTA’s transit buses leaving the MTA’s bus depot along Washington Boulevard.” Assuming it’s approved by Mayor Catherine Pugh and others tomorrow morning, the change gives the city permission to enter the state lot and install the traffic light, and maintain it thereafter.

The light would be placed at 1311 S. Monroe Street, which sits right at the busy intersection of S. Monroe Street and Washington Boulevard, at the southern tip of Carroll Park. The agreement between the city and state would renew every year.

Two MTA spokespeople have not responded to requests for comment on the traffic signal change.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration touted BaltimoreLink, the $135 million bus system overhaul that brought Baltimore 12 color-coded routes with more stops and time-based mechanisms to hold green lights for buses, as a fix-all for the city’s troubled bus system.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t really worked out in the eight or so months  the system has been up and running. Freelance writer Danielle Sweeney wrote in a report published last month that only about two-thirds of MTA’s LocalLink buses—the numbered lines, that is—show up on time, which the agency argued is actually better than before BaltimoreLink was put into action.

Sweeney reported separately that the agency cut 2,000 “bus runs,” or segments of bus drivers’ shifts, due to “lack of manpower” from June through mid-November 2017, which meant those buses just didn’t show up to pick up passengers.

Perhaps keeping those LocalLink buses from piling up behind each other right at the start will mitigate some of the delays. Councilman Ryan Dorsey is among the believers; he tweeted yesterday that the new signal should get buses to “start their route on time a little more reliably.”

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...