|The Arena sits like a big plug in the Westside. Once relocated|
big opportunities open up here
Before getting disgusted by the prospect of a whole city block full of Diesel spewing buses, read on: The hub is envisioned underneath a new fine-grained mixed use center that would rise where the Arena stood as a monolith blocking the old street patterns. Unplugging the Westside and opening the old Liberty and Redwood Street alignments was actually the main argument, but the bus hub is a good one as well.
Whatever high frequency, high speed and high capacity bus lines the Hogan transportation folks may come up with, they all need "land-side improvements" to truly live up to thos promising attributes, MTA operations improvements alone can't do it.
One of those "land-side" improvements is sufficient real estate for hubs where various transit modes or lines inter connect, and that is pretty much most of the Westside. Lots of crowded curbside stops,
|Rendering of a new developed Arena site. The bus hub would be below, out of sight but not out of mind (ArchPlan Inc.)|
|A bus transit center could sit below new parcels|
that respect the old street grid (ArchPlan and
Imagine, then, a new mixed use urban center that would let Redwood Street go through and Liberty follow its historic diagonal course all the way to Fayette Street and imagine further a larger basement under the full block currently occupied by the Arena and its garage. If you have ever been in Denver, you may be familiar with downtown underground bus hubs, Denver has two of those. Out of sight but not out of mind, these are the places where to find your bus connection. Instead of waiting at a curb stop in the rain blocking the path of pedestrians and aggravating the retail merchants around the stop, a facility that is half train station, half subway and has air conditioned waiting rooms with an array of electronic real time displays offers all the amenities that current bus riders lack in Baltimore.
|Transit Density on the Westside|
|A bus hub could sit under the full site (ArchPlan Inc.)|
When I first proposed the bus hub at the Arena site, I thought it would connect to three rail lines, the Metro, the Central Light Rail and the Red Line and it could knit those three rail stops together since they are a good block, a fact that always has been the subject of much criticism but that wasn't easy to alleviate. But by having a large piece of MTA controlled real estate devoted to transit like the bus hub connecting the rail lines the transfer would become seamless. Alas, the idea works with two rail lines as well!
So, when we get ready to engage on the question what the next round of transit improvements in Baltimore should look like, don't forget to considerthe downtown Westside transit hub under what is now the Arena!
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
|Bus hub under the new Denver train station area (Photo ArchPlan)|
|The Denver Union Station bus hub is part airport, part subway and part train station|