Rescheduled Routes

I learned an interesting nugget of information from the 11 bus driver today!

Sometimes the bus destination indicator (right above the windshield) will indicate something other than the normal destination, e.g. “11 ARENA” instead of “11 CANTON”. (See picture)

Confused as to why this might be, I inquired with the driver. I learned that when many buses are running late, system-wide, dispatch can alter their routes so that they give people the opportunity to get downtown, and then get on another bus that isn’t late. Otherwise you’d have busses from the same route running practically on top of each other.

Route 13

Today’s ride home proved to wild journey on Maryland’s MTA Local Bus System. I ended up traversing some very sketchy areas, surely frightening poor Meredith, and despite my VFW status, I must admit I was scared at times. I sometimes think having a CCW wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

My typical route home is taking the MTA Route 11 from Towson to Canton. That bus travels down Charles St for its entire length practically and then on down to Canton via Pratt / President / Fleet / Boston. Normally it takes about an hour and a half to get home. Sucks but its cheap and I catch up on audiobooks. On Orioles / Ravens days however, this can become a 2.5-3 hour ordeal as busses don’t fare well in downtown gridlock.

Today I opted to take the mighty 48 quickbus, and would transfer to the 13. Somehow we got stuck with a bus from 1999 that was on its last legs. The 48 goes straight down York and then onto Greenmount through some fairly rugged areas. I don’t mind that stretch though. I was just chatting with the driver the whole time about the Red Line and BRT vs LRT vs HRT. I was solicted by the gentleman next to me for some $3 bootleg DVDs. The labels were printed on an injet with no red ink left.

At Greenmount and North Ave I had to get off and wait for the 13. If you don’t know this corner, its a fairly rough spot. All you can see around are vacant homes, burned and boarded, some convenience stores, and Greenmount Cemetery. Not a good place to hang at night. Anxious to get home (and out of the ghetto) I jumped on the first 13 bus I saw, but it was the wrong one. Uh Oh…

I ended up getting on the 13 to Patterson Park Ave. Which terminates at the scenic [sic] corner of Patterson Park Ave and Federal (see map). This is the 1600 block of Patterson Park, not at all nice. The driver ditched the bus and said she’d be back in a few minutes. Unsure of what to do, I figured I’d just walk on down Patterson Park Ave (through some of the most troublesome east side ghetto neighborhoods) on down to the Park, and then home. Here’s a map of where I got off the bus.

View Larger Map

Not a good plan. I quickly realized that I was much further north of the park than I realized. Over a mile in fact, and I also realized at this point that walking down this stretch of road wasn’t a great plan. I had my iPhone on me and could have charted a different path, but I was anxious about pulling out the iPhone in that area. I always think it’s better not to show the gadgets in an area where you might be targeted for armed robbery. Here’s one of the blocks I walked by:

View Larger Map

I kept walking though. I made it as far as Monument before Meredith finally came and picked me up. Thank goodness! The streets were really starting to deteriorate and I was becoming wary of some kids that seemed to be following me. I called some friends that work in those police precincts later and confirmed I was walking straight through some of their most problematic areas. Glad I’m home.

I learned today that there is a lot more of Baltimore than most of us know, as we zoom by on the beltway or 95. Taking the bus really can inject you right into the veins of some Baltimore slums that are reminiscent of Tikrit. I also learned that reading those bus signs is important, and on Game Days I should probably drive.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my story.