WASHINGTON COUNTY — Area residents now have another government-subsidized option for transit to Baltimore.
With the help of a federal grant, BayRunner Shuttle has begun offering daily round-trip van rides between Western Maryland and Baltimore, including stops in Hancock and Hagerstown.
The company’s 14-passenger vans pick up Hagerstown passengers in front of Sleep Inn and Suites, near the Park and Ride on Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive. They provide service to the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the BWI Amtrak train station and the Baltimore Greyhound bus station.
A one-person, one-way trip between Hagerstown and Baltimore costs $42, according to the company’s website, www.bayrunnershuttle.com.
The service will provide an alternative to current airport transportation options, which include taxi-style airport shuttles and Cape Air’s commuter air service between Hagerstown Regional Airport and BWI.
“It should add quite a bit of value to the travel options for the people in Hagerstown,” said John W. Presburg, BayRunner’s founder and president. “We’re talking about the price of gas being over $3 a gallon and probably going higher, and the fact that we’re trying to cut down on people riding in their own cars.”
BayRunner Shuttle began operating the route Jan. 3 after being awarded a Federal Transit Administration 5311(f) grant, Presburg said.
“(The grant) provides for service to small, rural communities that normally wouldn’t have service, or had service in the past and for whatever reason there is no service now,” he said.
The grant was to connect Grantsville, Md., Frostburg, Md., Cumberland, Md., and Hancock to Baltimore, but BayRunner added additional stops in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., Presburg said.
Grantsville, Frostburg, Cumberland and Hancock were selected based on a 2009 State of Maryland assessment of intercity transit needs that included an inventory of existing services, said David Clark, a spokesman for the Maryland Transit Administration, which helped administer the grant.
BayRunner was selected from three companies that submitted proposals for the $444,000, 18-month grant for service to Western Maryland, Clark said.
Riders also can use the service for transit between the towns and cities along the route, Presburg said. Transit between Hancock and Hagerstown costs $15 each way, he said.
The Hancock stop is at the Hancock Truck Plaza at 434 E. Main St.
Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said he didn’t know how much business the Hancock area would generate, but he thought the service was a good idea.
“Any type of mass transit, if you will, that takes individual cars off the interstate between here and anywhere is a good thing in my opinion,” Murphy said.
The current schedule includes two round trips per day serving Hagerstown and points west, except Saturdays when the evening return route does not run, and Sundays, when the morning departure route does not run.
The vans operate whether or not they have any passengers, Presburg said.
Because they run regular routes, the vans cannot make personalized trips such as dropping people off at hotels or hospitals, he said. Taxis are waiting at the Greyhound station that can take passengers to those destinations, he said.
Amtrak and Greyhound passengers can book their shuttle fare along with their tickets, Presburg said.
BayRunner also offers discounted rates for passengers traveling in parties of two or more.
Cape Air’s commuter air service between Hagerstown and BWI also is subsidized through a federal grant. The company receives $1.2 million a year from the Essential Air Service program, airline officials have said.