Former MDOT MTA Driver Shares Tips For Catching The Bus In The Snow

Baltimore’s an incredible city, it is one of the few places that actually goes through all 4 seasons. Unlike Florida :-p

However, when the weather gets slushy and white sunshine falls from the sky, getting around can become extremely difficult! I would know, I’ve driven buses through every wave of bad weather we’ve had for the last 10 years. In this article, I will share a few hacks to make your MDOT MTA commute as smooth as possible.

Here are 5 tips for commuting on MDOT MTA in the snow.

Know if you live in a Snow-No-Go-Zone

There are a few places in Baltimore that MDOT buses won’t go if it’s bad weather. You can view that list here

If you live in one of these areas, or along one of these routes expect delays and anticipate buses not going there whenever the weather gets a little bad. 

From time to time you may still see buses utilize these corridors, this is because operators are waiting for an official call from the radio control tower letting them know it’s officially time to switch to snow routes. You can view those here.

 This is important to consider because it’s very likely you could see a bus go down your block at 9:55, and then not see anymore for quite some time, even though the weather or snow accumulation looks the same.

In full transparency, we didn’t really have a good communication system when I was there and there were often buses still going the normal route when we had switched over to snow routes, and vice versa.

 Not to mention there was no solid mechanism to let passengers know when this switch happened and when it would stop. 

Utilize tip number 2 to avoid missing out on crucial information

Use GPS Based Apps To Your Advantage

MDOT MTA is huge, this is why communication can be delayed sometimes. In the real world, a snow detour has to go through multiple people before passengers may find out. Here’s how it looks in real-time.

A driver goes through an area and sees it may not be feasible for buses to continue going this way, he then calls radio supervision letting them know the issue. 

Radio supervision then sends street supervision to see and assesses the road conditions. If the supervisor deems the conditions unsafe, he then communicates back with Radio Supervision to close this portion of the route. Next, an announcement is then sent to drivers that we can no longer drive this way. Then notifications are sent to customer service about the update, then customer service sends an update to the digital folk to update the website and social media. 

This is also the process of removing a snow detour.  This may seem like a short process on paper but in real-time all of this can take an hour or so. Here’s the hack around it

Download The Transit  via Google Play Or Apple App Store

Bookmark Transee using this link 

Transit: is a very good visual interface that can let you see where buses are and if trips have been cut. Use this app to SEE where the bus is at. The schedule estimate is cool..but yo…take it from me as someone who use to drive these, look for the physical bus on the map.

Also when a trip has the slash through it like the one in 27 minutes, there is some sort of problem! The bus may have been cut, broken down, or whatever.

 I don’t know, what I do know is it’s not normal and it’s better to see the physical bus in motion before you choose to commute

Transee is good when used in combination with The Transit App because it can confirm or deny transits info.

When you go into the app, click the route and the direction you need and select Route Vehicles. From there you can see the actual bus number, where it is and where it’s going. This go-around, it confirmed what transit said.

 The #69 that is due at 9:03 is not presently “on the street” How did it confirm this? By letting me know the only bus on the #69 headed to Patapsco Station, is 16046 coach currently approaching Brooklyn


Avoid Hills

Hills are bad news for MDOT’s New Flyers. Not to mention, no cap there are some drivers who find it “super convenient” to get stuck on them so they don’t have to do any work. But there are some drivers who bypass stops on a hill because they know they’ll get stuck if they do stop. 

It’s not personal, sometimes you have to make that call for the sake of everyone on the bus. I’ve been in the spot a few times and it makes you feel bad to leave a person behind, however, this is also how I have avoided being stuck for 10 years. To date, any bus I’ve driven has yet to be snow-stuck. As a driver in bad weather sometimes you gotta pick your spots and choose the interest of the many as opposed to the interest of a few

 It’s not personal, I promise.


Go Early Stay Late

I never really agreed with MDOT’s essential worker policy for drivers, still don’t. However, in having to adhere to that policy I’ve learned a few tips about having to travel in it. The best time to go is at the beginning of a storm and about an hour after it stops. The North-East corridor is pretty good at getting roads manageable again in quick order. If the snow stops at 5 pm, you’ll be good to move around at about 6 pm. If you gotta go to work, get there before the weather picks up, and leave once the plows get to work. I’ve learned this is a much better way as opposed to traveling mid-storm and being stuck until the plows come anyway.


If You Don’t Have to Travel, Then Don’t 

Last week, thousands of people were stuck on 95 south for 15 hours stuck in bad snow. Of those thousands, how many of them do you think had 100% crucial I absolutely must go now or worlds will crumble travel?  Not many. You have to pick and choose your spots sometimes and consider your personal safety as the deciding factor when traveling in bad weather.

I hope this info has been of some sort of service to you, for any questions list them in the comments and we’ll cover it and tag you in the next post!


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