Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Many people along the east coast and living within the midatlantic are relatively familiar with Amtrak and its rail service. Amtrak covers the gamut of the contiguous Untied States, but receives its largest source of revenue from travelers commuting along the east coast corridor. This makes sense for two reasons: one, the fact that the east coast is so densely populated relative to other areas of the country and two, the fact that the travel distance between most east coast states is no more than one or two hours. Travelling along the east coast by train is also sometimes more cost effective than air travel and less stressful than driving.
The MARC train is a subsidiary of both CSX Transportation and Amtrak. It is also a service partially subsidized by the federal government. The acronym MARC stands for Maryland Area Regional Commuter, though through its three rail lines, it travels to points as far south as West Virginia. As a commuter service, its main goal is to transport the thousands of residents between West Virginia and Maryland to and from work. Thus most MARC train rail schedules operate only during traditional commuting hours Monday through Friday from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exception is the MARC Penn Line service, which operates Monday through Friday between Perryville, MD, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Operating much like any other railway system, MARC train service operates via a rail schedule, servicing the area through the use of several rail lines. The Penn Line, as noted above, operates between Perryville, MD, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, and it is the most popular line of all the MARC lines, carrying an average of 20,000 commuters each day. The other lines are the Camden Line, also operating between Baltimore and Washington, DC, via different routes, and the Brunswick Line, which operates between Martinsburg, WV, Brunswick, MD, and Washington, DC. With so many routes leading into the District of Columbia, itís no wonder why so many federal employees often ride the MARC daily.
The MARC train makes it possible for people to live outside of Washington, DC, and commute to work in ways that the DC metro cannot. The MARC train covers areas that that DC metro currently does not reach, and because it makes fewer stops than the metro, many riders claim that the service to and from Union Station is faster than if one were to take the metro. However, like the DC metro, seats on the MARC train are unreserved, meaning that during the busiest of commuting times, travelers may have to stand part of the way (not unlike commuters do daily on the metro).
Vacation travelers and business travelers alike will find that travelling on the MARC is a quick, economical alternative to driving through local DC traffic any day. When commuting between points from West Virginia to Maryland, consider taking the MARC train.