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Baltimore Metro SubwayLink

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Metro SubwayLink
Metro SubwayLink train entering Reisterstown Plaza station and bound for Owings Mills station
OwnerMaryland Transit Administration
LocaleBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
TypeRapid transit
Depot(s)5801 Wabash Avenue[1]
Rolling stock100 Budd Universal Transit Vehicle cars[2]
Daily ridership14,400 (weekdays, Q1 2024)[3]
Ridership1,988,300 (2023)[4]
OpenedNovember 21, 1983; 40 years ago (1983-11-21)
Line length15.4 mi (24.8 km)[5]
Track length34 mi (55 km)[1]
Number of tracks2
CharacterUnderground, surface, elevated
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationThird rail700 V DC[5]
Operating speed70 mph (110 km/h)[2]
Highest elevation28 ft (8.5 m)[2]
Route map
Map Metro SubwayLink highlighted in green
Owings Mills
Old Court
Milford Mill
Reisterstown Plaza
Maintenance and Storage Facility
Rogers Avenue
West Cold Spring
Upton–Avenue Market
State Center
Lexington Market
Charles Center
Shot Tower
Johns Hopkins Hospital

Handicapped/disabled access All stations are accessible

The Baltimore Metro SubwayLink is a rapid transit line serving Baltimore, Maryland, and its northwestern suburbs, operated by the Maryland Transit Administration. The segment in Downtown Baltimore is underground, while most of the line outside the central city is elevated or at surface grade.[2] In 2023, the line had a ridership of 1,988,300, or about 14,400 per weekday as of the first quarter of 2024.


The origins of the Metro SubwayLink lie in the Baltimore Area Mass Transportation Plan published in 1965, which envisioned six rapid transit lines radiating out from a central city loop. Planning studies from 1968 proposed a rail transit system 71 mi (114 km) long.[2]

As the vision was translated into reality, the original concept was trimmed to a 28 mi (45 km) system in the Phase 1 plan, published in 1971. This plan involved two of the original six lines: a northwest line from Downtown Baltimore to Owings Mills and a south line to Glen Burnie and the airport. Phase 1 was approved for funding by the Maryland General Assembly in 1972. In response to lobbying by Anne Arundel County residents, the MTA eliminated the south line from Phase 1 plans in 1975; the Baltimore Light RailLink was later built over much of the planned south line corridor.[2]

When the Metro SubwayLink opened on November 21, 1983, only the "Northwest" line of the 1965 plan had come to fruition. This 7.6 mi (12.2 km) segment provided service between Charles Center in Downtown Baltimore and the Reisterstown Plaza shopping center in the northwest of the city. On July 20, 1987, a 6.1 mi (9.8 km) addition extended the line from Reisterstown Plaza to Owings Mills in Baltimore County, with a portion running in the median of Interstate 795. A further extension of 1.6 mi (2.5 km) from Charles Center to Johns Hopkins Hospital opened on May 31, 1995.[1][5] Once the project was completed in 1995, the total cost for the Metro SubwayLink stood at $1.392 billion.[2]

The current system is 15.4 mi (24.8 km) long, consisting of 6.2 mi (10 km) underground, 2.2 mi (3.5 km) elevated, and 7.0 mi (11.3 km) at grade. Eight of its 14 stations are underground, at depths from 52 ft (16 m) to 112 ft (34 m) below street level. Its elevated stations stand from 25 ft (7.6 m) to 28 ft (8.5 m) above ground.[5]

When the system opened, it became the largest single user of Susan B. Anthony dollar coins in the United States.[6]

The installation of underground cellular service in the Metro SubwayLink tunnels began in September 2021 and was originally expected to be completed by June 2022.[7][8] As of January 2024, the work has not been completed.



The Metro SubwayLink has a single line that is shaped like a reverse "J". Trains head south underground from Johns Hopkins Hospital, turn west as they pass under Baltimore's central business district, turn north at Charles Center, and ultimately turn to face northwest at State Center. The route leaves its tunnel northwest of Mondawmin station, entering an elevated structure that parallels Wabash Avenue and the Hanover Subdivision along the former Western Maryland Railway route. The route then enters the median of Interstate 795, which it occupies until it reaches the Owings Mills terminus.

Trains heading towards Johns Hopkins Hospital are referred to as "eastbound", while trains heading towards Owings Mills are "westbound".[9]


A trip from one end of the line to the other takes about half an hour. Headways range from eight minutes during daytime peak to eleven minutes late at night and on weekends. Trains run from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekends.[9]


As of 2024, the fare prices for MTA buses, the Metro SubwayLink, and the Light RailLink travel are as follows:[10]

Type Full fare Senior/Disability Student Mobility
Single trip $2.00 $1.00 $1.50 $2.20
Day Pass $4.60 $2.30
Weekly Pass $22.00
Monthly Pass $77.00 $23.00
  • Note: People who qualify for paratransit services can use the Metro SubwayLink free of charge.[10]

Farebox recovery[edit]

Farebox recovery in the system is only 28%. This is comparable to other similarly sized systems in the continental United States, but low by international standards.[citation needed]


For fiscal year 2010, the MTA reported 95% on-time performance for the system. It averaged 3.0 passenger trips per revenue mile, with a total of 13.4 million passenger trips for the year. Vehicles operated at an average cost of $11.59 per revenue mile. Local buses, in comparison, performed at a cost of $13.57 per revenue mile.[11]


The Metro SubwayLink has a total of 14 stations.[12]

Location Distance (mi / km) Station Connections
Owings Mills 0.0 (0) Owings Mills BaltimoreLink: 87, 89
Lochearn 3.6 (5.8) Old Court BaltimoreLink: 37, 83
5.4 (8.7) Milford Mill BaltimoreLink: 81, 85
Glen, Baltimore 6.1 (9.8) Reisterstown Plaza BaltimoreLink: 82
Arlington, Baltimore 7.1 (11.4) Rogers Avenue BaltimoreLink: 28, 30, 31, 34, 80, 82, 89
8.3 (13.4) West Cold Spring BaltimoreLink: 28, 82
Mondawmin, Baltimore 10.1 (16.3) Mondawmin BaltimoreLink: NAVY, LIME, YELLOW, 22, 26, 29, 82, 83, 85, 91
Penn-North, Baltimore 10.8 (17.4) Penn – North BaltimoreLink: LIME, GOLD, 85
Upton, Baltimore 11.3 (18.2) Upton – Avenue Market BaltimoreLink: LIME
Mount Vernon, Baltimore 12.5 (20.1) State Center / Cultural Center BaltimoreLink: LIME, YELLOW, 54, 73, 154, 410

Light RailLink (at Cultural Center)

Downtown, Baltimore 13.3 (21.4) Lexington Market BaltimoreLink: BLUE, 54, 71, 80, 94, 105, 115, 154, 320
Light RailLink (at Lexington Market)
13.8 (22.2) Charles Center BaltimoreLink: ORANGE, GREEN, SILVER, RED, PURPLE, 40, 51, 56, 65, 67, 71, 76, 78, 95, 103, 105, 164, 120, 150, 160, 310, 320, 410, 411
CCC: Purple
14.4 (23.2) Shot Tower BaltimoreLink: ORANGE, BLUE, PURPLE
CCC: Green
Middle East, Baltimore 15.4 (24.8) Johns Hopkins Hospital BaltimoreLink: PINK, GOLD, BROWN, PURPLE, 21, 56, 104, 105, 115, 120, 160, 310, 320, 411, 420
CCC: Green

Connecting services[edit]

Most Metro SubwayLink stations are served by a number of MTA bus routes. In 1984, just months after Metro first started operating, many feeder routes were created that were given the designation of a letter (M, P, or R) followed by a number. In 1987, many of these routes were renamed, and only the prefix "M" was used. Over the years, the number of M-lines had shrunk, as many of the routes were consolidated. In 2008, routes designated with the letter "M" were renamed to plain two-digit designations. Finally, on August 30, 2009, the last four were either renumbered or eliminated, with no routing changes made; they continue to act as feeder routes to the Metro SubwayLink.

There is no direct connection from the Metro SubwayLink to the Light RailLink or MARC commuter rail. However, the Metro SubwayLink's Lexington Market Station is a 200-yard (180 m) walk from the Light RailLink stop of the same name, and the State Center station is about 1.5 blocks away from the Light RailLink's Cultural Center station. Baltimore Penn Station is about a one-half mile walk from State Center, and MARC Camden Station is about five blocks from Lexington Market Metro station.

Rolling stock[edit]

A universal transit vehicle on the Baltimore Metro SubwayLink departing Milford Mill station

As of 2024, the line currently uses cars manufactured by the Budd Company in Northeast Philadelphia. The first set of additional, new cars are presently manufactured at Hitachi Rail Italy in Florida.[11][13][14]

Most of the 100 Budd-built cars were delivered in 1983 with a supplementary set of essentially identical cars being purchased in 1986 for the line expansion. The cars, marketed by Budd as the Universal Transit Vehicle, are identical to those formerly used on the Miami Metrorail; the two agencies built their systems at the same time and saved money by sharing a single order.[2] A number of Budd cars have been retired.[13]

Trains draw power from the electric third rail. The cars are 75 feet (22.86 m) long, 10 feet (3.05 m) wide, and have a top speed of 70 mph (110 km/h). Cars are semi-permanently attached in married pairs and joined up to form 4-car trains, which is the normal train length. 6-car trains are used during peak rush hours. Each car can hold up to 166 passengers (76 seated, 90 standing).[2]

The fleet had a significant overhaul between 2002 and 2005. Seats were reupholstered, and the floors were replaced. External destination rollsigns were replaced with LED displays; internal systems that display train destinations and upcoming stop announcements were also installed.[15]

In July 2017, MTA announced the purchase of 78 new railcars to replace the entire subway fleet. The cars are being built in Florida by Hitachi Rail Italy, and will be similar in appearance to those purchased for the Miami Metrorail.[13][16][17] The Hitachi railcars generate electricity while braking, thus allowing the energy to power certain train systems and enabling the system to become more energy efficient.[13] The first Hitachi cars were delivered in October 2023; the replacement of the rolling stock is set to occur in phases from 2024 to 2026.[13][14]


On February 11, 2018, the MTA announced a month-long closure of the entire system to complete emergency track repairs identified during a safety inspection. An aboveground portion of the system had already been shut down due to emergency inspections and repairs.[18] The system reopened on March 9, 2018.[19]

In the summer of 2023, a fire damaged a portion of the subway system, prompting a brief closure.[20] Regular service resumed a few days later.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "MTA Media Guide 2010–2011" (PDF). MTA Maryland. August 2010. pp. 4, 9, 10. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Scott M. Kozel (October 13, 2002). "Baltimore Metro Subway". Roads to the Future. Archived from the original on August 8, 2002. Retrieved June 28, 2002.
  3. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2023" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 4, 2024. Retrieved March 14, 2024.
  4. ^ "Transit Ridership Report First Quarter 2024" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 31, 2024.
  5. ^ a b c d Robert Schwandl. "Baltimore Metro Subway". UrbanRail.Net. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  6. ^ Valentine, Paul W. (April 2, 1984). "Underground Coin". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Metro SubwayLink Cornerstone Plan (PDF) (Report). Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration. August 28, 2019. p. 36. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  8. ^ Arnold, Holly (June 29, 2021). Franchise Agreement Report: Summary of Service Disruptions & Asset Conditions – Metro SubwayLink and Light RailLink (Report). Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration. p. 5. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Metro Subway". MTA Maryland. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Regular Fares". Maryland Transit Administration. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  11. ^ a b "2012 Annual Report" (PDF). MTA Maryland. p. 30. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  12. ^ "Metro Subway Schedule" (PDF). MTA Maryland. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  13. ^ a b c d e Zawodny, Daniel (September 22, 2023). "Baltimore subway to get first new railcars in 40 years". The Baltimore Banner. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  14. ^ a b BATRAK, OLEKSANDR (October 3, 2023). "New Metro Cars from Hitachi Rail for Baltimore". Railway Supply. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  15. ^ Krishnamurthy, B.; Causey, R.; Shockley, T. C.; Garrettson, G. A. (2001). "METRO HEAVY RAIL MID-LIFE OVERHAUL NEEDS ASSESSMENT: BALTIMORE, MARYLAND". American Public Transportation Association. 8.
  16. ^ "Maryland Transit Administration". mta.maryland.gov.
  17. ^ "MDOT MTA Wins Approval for $400.5M Purchase of Metro SubwayLink Railcars and Train Control System". Mass Transit. July 31, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  18. ^ Campbell, Colin (February 11, 2018). "Entire Baltimore Metro system to close for a month for emergency repairs". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  19. ^ Richman, Talia. "Riders relieved as Baltimore Metro Subway reopens after monthlong shutdown". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  20. ^ a b Zawodny, Daniel (July 12, 2023). "Repairs continue on Baltimore subway as service resumes days after fire". The Baltimore Banner. Retrieved February 7, 2024.

External links[edit]

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