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New suburban bus connector a boon for Inner Harbor developments

The Express BusLink launched by the Maryland Transit Administration earlier this week is touted as a better way to connect Baltimore’s suburbs, but one of the big winners is the Harbor East and Harbor Point developments in the city.

The service, part of the wider $135 million BaltimoreLink overhaul, connects Towson to White Marsh, Owings Mills Metro Station to Towson, Old Court Metro Station to BWI Airport/Marc Station and Columbia to Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood. It also checks off a major item on a transportation wish list put together by the Waterfront Partnership, a nonprofit that bills itself as a steward of the city’s Inner Harbor area.

A Waterfront Partnership survey had found strong support among Inner Harbor and Harbor Point employees for a bus line from the Howard County area. The survey influenced transportation planners when they revised Baltimore area bus routes. (File photo)

A Waterfront Partnership survey had found strong support among Inner Harbor and Harbor Point employees for a bus line from the Howard County area. The survey influenced transportation planners when they revised Baltimore area bus routes. (File photo)

Waterfront Partnership, which lists Harbor Point developer Michael Beatty, John Pezzula, director of retail assets for Bozzuto Management, and Baltimore Development Corp. President William Cole as board members, in a transportation task force report released in 2015 included three suggestions for Maryland Transit Administration commuter routes.

One of the proposed routes included in the report is a connector between Harbor East and Columbia. Although the route proposed by Waterfront Partnership uses Interstate 95 as opposed to the route using Route 29 and Route 40 the new bus runs, it still checks off one item of this particular transportation to-do list.

The numbers provided by the Waterfront Partnership, through a survey of Harbor Point employees, played a crucial role in convincing the state to include the route as part of its Express BusLink program.

The survey, according to Waterfront Partnership Executive Director Laurie Schwartz, found that 1,449 Harbor Point employees lived in the south/southwest area outside the city with the majority of those living in Howard County.

Paul Comfort, Maryland Transit Administration CEO and administrator, said during an event Monday celebrating the launch of Express BusLink that the survey played a key role in persuading the state to include the Columbia-Harbor East route as part of the new system.

“But we were also really focused on trying to get some transit out to Harbor East. You’re probably aware that Harbor [Point] is a new development. Exelon will be coming there this year… and so we worked with their group closely over the last nine months. They did a survey of their employees, and their employees said the No. 1 place they would like transportation, public transportation, to Harbor East from is Columbia,” Comfort said.