New bus schedule creates new headaches

BALTIMORE -
Remember when catching one of Baltimore's city buses was a no brainer?
 
"I've been riding the 23 for years," said Jerome Wellons as he waited for a bus outside Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore.
 
Well, that may have been the case before all of the bus routes changed.
 
"What's the 23 today?" we asked Wellons.
 
"Confusing," he replied.
 
There was no shortage of confusion Monday - the first work day with a shake-up in the city's bus schedule, which was intended to better link riders with destinations across Charm City.
 
But BaltimoreLink, as it’s called, proved to be a missing link for newcomers to the system still trying to figure out what has replaced their old routes.
 
"Today's our first big day and we're getting a lot of questions,” said MDOT MTA Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn. “Folks want to know how to use the system so we have about 300 transit ambassadors handing out brochures and schedules and all sorts of information to get the word out about the system."
 
The transit ambassadors are the yellow-vested helpers deployed to hand out materials and help customers make sense of them.
 
"The first ones they gave out didn't have no times on them. It was very confusing," said Mike Hopkins of Dundalk.
 
Monday, even those who cut through the confusion seemed to be working overtime to commit the changes to memory.
 
"I used to have to take the 40 to Middle River,” explained Hopkins. “This changed... I don't know the numbers... it changed to the Orange and from there I would transfer to what used to be the 4, which ran once an hour, and now it's a Blue or a Navy... 62."
 
But many were not so lucky...
 
"It's already a hectic system as it is,” chimed in one rider.
 
"The bus takes you anywhere except where you're going," said another.
 
And any promise of a more reliable and efficient system seems a bit hollow even for the system's most optimistic customers.
 
"So far so good this morning,” said a smiling Valencia Nelson of Curtis Bay. “I'm not late yet."
 
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