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Student Hack: Transportation

Getting around in Baltimore

For newbie city-dwellers, Baltimore is not the easiest city to hack. There is no line of demarcation between The Wire and Charm City;  it’s more like pockets of both everywhere, and you just have to know what you’re doing when trying to get around.

We can attest that the first thing each of us did, respectively, when arriving in Baltimore was walk the streets and explore. Bad idea.

Use the following guide to educate yourself about the transportation options in Baltimore City so you don’t go walking around willy nilly and end up in weird places 😀

Public transportation in Baltimore

CharmCity Circulator

Light Rail Train

MTA metro and buses

Johns Hopkins shuttles

Taxi and ride services in Baltimore

Zip Car

Uber & Lyft

MARC train to DC

Public Transportation: The Charm City Circulator

You might have noticed buses that look like this around the city:

Charm City Circulator

This is a free bus service that offers four main routes around the city – the Purple, Orange, Green, and Banner lines. You will likely find the Green Route the most useful because it stops at the JHMI campus on Broadway and goes into Fells and Harbor East. Check out the Charm City Circulator website for more details (although it looks like they haven’t updated their Green Circulator route map since doing construction around the 929 apartments on North Wolfe. There is now a stop IN FRONT of 929, not behind it. And we have no idea what’s going on with the northbound Aliceanna stop in Fells so best to maybe call them up or ask around).

You’ll want to use an app to track where and when the circulator will arrive at certain stops since there is no set schedule. We used the “Bus It” app.

It’s tough to depend on the Circulator for everyday commuting because service can be so erratic but if you can make it work, it’s an excellent and free transportation option!

Public Transportation: The Light Rail Train

The cheapest and easiest way to get to the airport (BWI) is undoubtedly by getting on the Light Rail Train (LRT). It’ll cost you less than $2 and can drop you close to the Inner Harbor or Mount Vernon. Combined with the metro or the Circulator, it’s a good option from any of the campuses:

  • From the University of Baltimore and Johns Hopkins’ Homewood, take the purple circulator southbound until Pratt or Visitor Center and walk to the Camden Yard LRT stop
  • From Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions & School of Public Health, take the metro down to Charles Center, then walk to the Convention Center LRT stop
  • From University of Maryland, just walk to the University Center LRT stop!

Public Transportation: MTA metro and buses

There is a CharmCard that you can purchase to commute more easily using the city’s transportation network. This being said, there are so many shuttle services provided by the universities + the Circulator, that a lot of students don’t need to use MTA buses very often (in my experience).

The metro is less useful for Hopkins students (it has few stops downtown) unless you want to go to Lexington Market or reach the Light Rail Train from JHMI.

Johns Hopkins shuttles

For students, the Hopkins shuttles are one of the most practical ways to get around. They are free (need your ID just in case) and go to some of the main residential areas in Baltimore.

If you are a student at Hopkins, you will likely be using one or all of the following free shuttle services to get around. If you live in Canton or Federal Hill, you can expect to bike or walk to school. Hopkins shuttles don’t go out there for some reason (even though both are great places to live!)

The whole thing is a confusing mess but we’ll point out the most commonly used shuttles below.

JHMI-Peabody-Homewood shuttle

If you live in Charles Village or Mount Vernon, this shuttle will be your transportation method to get to the Hopkins medical campus. This line is also useful if you live in Fells or near JHMI and want to go to Homewood (the undergraduate campus in Charles Village) for a sports game or to use the library facilities. Also useful if you want to go to Penn Station OR if you want to hang out in Mount Vernon and go for coffee on the weekend.

The shuttle runs all days of the week, but less frequently on Saturdays and Sundays. Click here for the schedule and see below for the route map.

Do note there is a “local” and an “express” version of this route. The express boards only at IFC, Barnes & Noble and drops off only at JHMI (Broadway) going south. It boards only at JHMI (Broadway) and drops off only at 29th St, 33rd St and IFC going north.

Johns Hopkins JHMI Homewood shuttle
The “shuttle” is actually a bus and looks like this (or like this but blue). Source

Bond Street shuttle

If you live in Fells (like really close to the water, not Upper Fells), this might be a great way to get to school without making the 30 minute hike with your laptop on your back.

The Bond Street shuttle picks up and drops off right in front of Bond Street Social in Fells. It drops off at the traffic circle in front of the School of Medicine on Broadway and picks up in the little parking lot/driveway just to the left of that same traffic circle on Broadway on its way to Fells.

The Bond Street shuttle comes by every 30 minutes. To see the schedule, navigate to this page. You will then be asked to log in with your JHED (NOT JHSPH) ID to see the schedule. Once you access it, we recommend taking a photo with your phone or printing it out because otherwise you’ll be caught in the middle of the sidewalk some day messing with your stupid log in info just to know when the shuttle shows up. (Been there.) This shuttle only runs M-F from 7:30am to 5:30pm.

bond street shuttle at Hopkins Medical Campus
This is what this shuttle and the following three shuttles look like.

The #7 South shuttle

This shuttle only runs in the evenings and will take you from school into Fells as far south as Eastern and as far east as Patterson Park. It departs from the driveway on Wolfe Street across from the School of Nursing at 6:15pm, then goes 6:30, 6:45, then 7:15pm and every 30 min after that until midnight. It only runs Monday to Friday. If you are a Fells person, you will notice there is a weird black hole when there is no shuttle service from 5:15pm until 6:15pm – accounting for the last Bond Street shuttle and the first 7 South shuttle.

The #7 North shuttle

Similarly, this shuttle picks you up on Wolfe Street and can drop you anywhere between Central Ave. (west), Biddle St. (north), Lakewood Ave. (east), Eastern Ave. (south), and also the Mount Vernon area. It leaves at the same time as the #7 South shuttle.

Bayview shuttle (or #1)

This shuttle will pick you up on Wolfe Street (close to #7) and will take you to the second medical campus (Bayview) from 6:30 am to 7:15 pm. Note that there are 3 stops at Bayview: Pavilion, Asthma & Allergy Center and the Mason Lord Building.

Taxi and car services in Baltimore: Zipcar

Zipcar is a great way to have access to a car if you do not own one. You pay a monthly fee of around $8 and can reserve and drive Zipcar “rental cars”, which are parked in designated spots throughout the city, whenever you want. It’s great for running errands, getting groceries, and going on day trips with friends. Once you rent the car, you pay a fee based on how long you have the car for. You don’t pay for gas or insurance – it’s included.

And lastly, Zipcar recognizes many international licenses, so you don’t have to be American to use this service (and you can use it wherever you travel, in the US or elsewhere). Note that you still need to comply with the Maryland Vehicle Authority regulations if you plan to drive on a regular basis or own a car: details here.

We have a Zipcar account and have used Zipcar to go on day trips and drive to the airport; it has been super easy and convenient.

To sign up, see their website.

Taxi and car services in Baltimore: Uber & Lyft

You’ve probably heard of Uber and Lyft before, but if not it’s like having a taxi on call at your fingertips. You download the Uber or Lyft app and can order a ride that will arrive within 10 minutes. These apps use GPS to track where you are and where you’re going, and connect to your bank details to automatically pay your driver – no need for taking out your wallet at all.

Use Uber or Lyft to go to and from a night out on the town, or to get groceries if you don’t have access to a car.

*Bonus: Use our code to get a free ride when you sign up with Uber: michellev125

For more check out the Uber site and Lyft site.

MARC train

Why buy a $20-40 Amtrak ticket to DC when you can get this $8 MARC train one? Use this train, which departs from Penn Station, to make weekend trips to DC for cheap. Head to the MARC website to input details (take the Penn Line from Penn Station to Union Station) and see schedules. Note that the weekend schedule differs from weekdays.