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Lyft offers free rides after Charm City Circulator interruptions



Ride share company Lyft is offering free trips to residents and commuters dealing with Charm City Circulator service interruptions on Thursday and Friday.

Baltimore’s beleaguered fee free bus service stopped service Thursday on some routes and will experience significant delays on others. The service problems are caused by a change in operators.

“Access to a variety of transportation options is critical to Baltimore residents,” Mike Heslin, Lyft Baltimore market manager, said in a statement announcing the free rides. “We’re happy to work with the Baltimore City Department of Transportation to provide a solution during this temporary gap in public transportation.”

Lyft riders can use the promo code CIRCULATOR to hitch a free Charm City CirculatorMF14_webride between any two circulator stops on Thursday and Friday. The quantity of rides, according to the company, is limited to 1,000. The maximum discount is up to $15 for per ride for two rides.

The Baltimore Department of Transportation said the Green Route, which runs between the east side of downtown and John Hopkins Medical Campus, and the Banner Route, which provides rides between downtown and Fort McHenry, will not operate Thursday and potentially Friday.

Riders on the Orange Route between East and West Baltimore and the Purple Route between Federal Hill and Charles Village will experience “significantly longer waits.”

In September Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration sued the system’s operator, Transdev North America Inc., for breach of contract. The city alleges the company overcharged for its services by $20 million.

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Transdev billed Baltimore, according to City Solicitor Andre M. Davis, for passenger transport beyond the operating hours agreed to in its contract. The overbilling, according to the city, resulted in the city paying more than it should have starting in 2010.

The bus service was launched in 2010 by then-Mayor Sheila Dixon. The three initial routes were aimed mainly at helping residents and visitors to get around downtown.

The free bus service was expanded and paid for largely with revenue from parking taxes. But the system has continually dealt with budget shortfalls.

In 2016 former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sought to increase parking taxes to pay for the program and plug its $6 million budget gap. But that proposal failed to gain traction in the Baltimore City Council and was opposed by the Downtown Partnership and other groups.

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