New arrivals in Baltimore will find that it is fairly easy to get around the city. While most people who settle down in Baltimore in the longer term will invest in a car, it is by no means essential. While driving will certainly give new arrivals more freedom to explore Baltimore and its surrounds, the city's public transport is more than efficient when it comes to the daily commute.
Public transport in Baltimore
The Maryland Transport Authority (MTA) oversees Baltimore’s integrated public transportation system. This system consists of buses, light rail, and subway networks, which get commuters to all corners of the city.
Purchasing a daily, weekly, or monthly transport pass allows commuters to utilise all modes of public transport in Baltimore over the designated period at discounted rates.
The light rail system in Baltimore helps connect the suburbs to the centre of Baltimore. Commuters often drive to stations located outside the city – where they are able to park at no cost – and then make use of the light rail to travel into the centre.
Baltimore has a single-line subway which runs from Johns Hopkins Hospital through the city centre and out to the northwest subways. The subway tends to be used by commuters travelling from their homes in the suburbs to the centre of Baltimore.
Bus routes in Baltimore cover most of the city and help connect areas that aren't sufficiently covered by the subway or light-rail networks. Unfortunately, buses rarely run to schedule, so it’s best to allow plenty of time to account for these delays.
There is also a free bus service known as the Charm City Circular. It consists of four different routes connecting downtown Baltimore to selected neighbourhoods. Visitors find this particularly useful as it covers tourist areas near the harbour and most historic sites.
Taxis in Baltimore
Checker and zTrip are two of the biggest taxi companies operating in the Baltimore area. Fares are competitive and drivers use a meter to calculate fares. In busy tourist areas and parts of the city centre it is easy to hail a taxi, but it is often better to pre-book when travelling from the suburbs.
Cycling in Baltimore
While Baltimore hasn’t always been the most cycle-friendly destination, the city has made significant strides in improving the cycling infrastructure in recent years, including designated cycle routes and safe bicycle storage facilities.
The Baltimore Bike Share programme has dozens of docking stations throughout the city. These allow cyclists to rent an electric- or regular bike to get them around the city. Monthly and weekly subscriptions, as well as single passes are available to those who wish to cycle as a means of commuting.
Walking in Baltimore
Baltimore is a large city so walking as one’s sole means of transport is not practical. That said, it is possible to walk around within particular suburbs. Areas that are popular with tourists such as Fells Point and the harbour precinct are especially safe and pleasant for those who enjoy a walk.
Driving in Baltimore
Most Baltimore residents, especially those with families, do tend to own a car. While driving offers greater freedom to explore different suburbs and to travel beyond the city at weekends, it is not always the most efficient way to get around the city. Traffic can be terrible during the week and parking is notoriously expensive; it's therefore advisable to drive to a light rail station and use public transport for the better part of one’s commute.