Towson Loop circulator buses will start running in the fall of 2021, nearly 10 years after the idea was first proposed, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced on Wednesday.
Olszewski said the new service will allow residents, workers and visitors to more easily reach shopping, restaurants and jobs. He also touted the environmental benefits of alternatives to car travel.
“We are all here today because we believe that efficient, effective transit is an absolutely key component to building vibrant and connected communities,” Olszewski said during a press conference on Wednesday.
The Towson Loop will include two routes: a north-south Purple Loop and an east-west Orange Loop.
The Orange Loop will run from the Shops at Kenilworth to the Towson Place Shopping Center.
The Purple Loop will connect colleges and hospitals, including Goucher College, Towson University, St. Joseph Medical Center, Sheppard Pratt and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
The routes will cross at Towson Town Center.
The fleet of 12 gas-engine buses cost approximately $2 million, said Sean Naron, deputy communications director for Olszewski.
Naron said the county estimates that there will be between 200,000 to 300,000 riders in the first year of the Towson Loop’s implementation.
The county expects Towson Loop buses will arrive at stops every 15-20 minutes, said Elizabeth Sachs, the director of Baltimore County’s Office of Government Reform and Strategic Initiatives.
Towson Loop buses will operate from 6 a.m. to midnight on Mondays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays. The buses will not run on Sundays, Sachs said.
“These two routes will complement existing MTA services, but will provide more frequent stops,” Sachs said.
County officials said they will announce an official start date in the coming weeks.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, whose district includes Towson, said that when he first ran for his council seat a decade ago, he thought circulator buses were a good concept.
Towson is the most densely populated part of Baltimore County, Marks said. And even 10 years ago, the county had expectations for growth in downtown Towson.
The circulator offered a potential solution to alleviate Towson’s heavily trafficked corridors.
But as with many projects, it took a long time to put the idea into motion, Mark said.
Olszewski said that since the county initiated a study in 2015, “Towson has grown and changed significantly.”
“More residents now call Towson home. New businesses have opened their doors, adding vibrancy to our county’s historic scene. But at the same time, we’ve also added to neighborhood traffic.”
As Baltimore County prepares to launch the circulator bus pilot, Olszewski said he believes the Towson Loop will provide a blueprint for similar services in other parts of the county.
“This is just the first step in building a robust local transit system that will carry us, literally, into the future,” he said. “Together, we will continue to build a 21st century transportation network that we can be better connected with other residents where we live, work, play and study.”
A full list of Towson Loop stops and more information about the buses on Baltimore County’s website.