During the first week of school, young riders and their parents struggle to find their way around the city’s new Baltimore Link system
EZE JACKSON: Hi. We’re here in West Baltimore at the Mondawmin Metro Station where the first day of school let out. We came up here to talk to folks about the new BaltimoreLink System and see how it’s working for people. Overall, it doesn’t seem like it’s working very well still. We’ve been here about 30-45 minutes. Students have been standing around. Several buses have not shown up. There’s even a principal and some of his staff here from a nearby school just making sure that everybody stays safe and that tension stays low. We talked to a few folks that were here about the system and here’s what they had to say. ALEASE BOYCE: I think it’s worse than what it was. I really do. Because it’s a lot of people don’t know where they’re going. Sometimes I be sitting on the bench there and be talking to people. They say they don’t even know where they going half the time. Some of them lost their jobs. EZE JACKSON: Is it worse than it was last year? DOUGLASS STUDENT: No. Kids are getting lost- DOUGLASS STUDENT: Like me. I got lost last week on the bus because I live at Park Heights and I was trying to go down to South Baltimore. I wish it was still the 91 because the 91 is better than the black and the blue and the yellow. I can’t really understand that. And then, it’s going to take us a long time to get this bus schedule stuff down. DOUGLASS STUDENT: But then you all got old people done be- they got to walk a long way to the bus stop. EZE JACKSON: So they took away a lot of stops, right? DOUGLASS STUDENT: No, they needed to take away some stops from the 8 because that 8 be too long. The 8 is really long. STUDENT: Where you all going now? DOUGLASS STUDENT: And one more thing. There’s one bus that go in a circle. I don’t get that. What is it going in a circle for? That bus down the street. Right there by White Lot. DOUGLASS STUDENT: It’s orange and black. They dumb. SHEILA KASEY: I used to catch the 21 and the 21, actually, used to come- it has shortened a little bit. It doesn’t take all the routes that it used to take because other buses have taken over that route. But, however, the line brings me straight to here at Mondawmin Mall then I have to catch the 20 because my son is going to school over here on the west side and I live on the east side. You know what I mean? So it hasn’t really been too much of a problem for me, but it’s a problem for him. He’s really not street smart, he’s really the metro bus savvy, you know what I mean? Because I used to drive, but right now we taking public transportation and I’m bringing him to school. I’m waiting for him now. EZE JACKSON: So you’re worried about him? He go to Douglass? SHEILA KASEY: No. No, no, no. He goes to Green Street Academy. EZE JACKSON: Okay. SHEILA KASEY: Over on Hilton Street. So the 29 bus- the 210 bus never came and then the bus was late. So it was a lot of people standing here and just recently the 29 bus just showed up. So instead of me catching the 29 and meeting my son, I called the school to have them have my son meet me here, because I would’ve been late there. You know what I mean? To meet him. So yeah, I don’t really like the change. CALVIN WILSON: Well, it’s not working, man. It’s not working. Seem like it’s worse. The other day I went and caught the bus, the bus came 15 minutes late. Then, today I caught the bus and it was an hour and a half late. Now, I did what I had to do. Now, I’m trying to get back home. There’s not a bus here. I’ll probably have to wait another- EZE JACKSON: This bus was supposed to have been here? CALVIN WILSON: The 29. EZE JACKSON: It was supposed to have been here already? Oh wow. How long ago? CALVIN WILSON: Yeah. I think it’s late, it’s going on it’s second round now. I think it’s supposed to be here 10 minutes ago, but it probably go over to the next bus schedule. I think it should go back to the way it was. You know what I mean? Because right now everything’s worse. It’s definitely worse. EZE JACKSON: I see they got these tents right here. That’s not helping out at all? CALVIN WILSON: Well, it’s just a bus schedule. What is it? EZE JACKSON: It’s a bus schedule, but they’re not actually sticking with the schedule. CALVIN WILSON: No. They give you a bus schedule. That’s fine. But, it says comes 7:26. It don’t get here until 8:26. So, that bus schedule ain’t doing us no good. EZE JACKSON: Right. SPEAKER: Not at all. CALVIN WILSON: Yeah, that’s not doing us no good at all. EZE JACKSON: I talked to a representative from the MTA who was here handing out information, they had a tent. They were giving out the bus schedules and stuff. She says people don’t want the help, that they’re not asking where they should be going and not trying to learn the new route. She claims people are not accepting the change and that’s the problem. But folks have said they’ve missed jobs, they’ve missed interviews, they’ve missed doctors appointments. We even talked to a parent who is looking for their child who doesn’t know the new route, is not familiar with it. The Real News is going to continue to follow this story for more updates. In West Baltimore, I’m Eze Jackson.