College Park: How to Get Around the City

In the far right, student attempt to cross a traffic packed Baltimore Avenue at Lakeland Road at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10. Traffic patterns are not much different at any other time of the day. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

In the far right, students attempt to cross a traffic-packed Baltimore Avenue/Route 1 at Lakeland Road at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10. Traffic patterns are not much different at any other time of the day. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

If you are like me, you are one of a few residents in College Park who do not have a car, which is a reasonable thing to consider. According to the U.S. Census Bureau‘s 2010 estimates, College Park has a land area of 5.64 square miles with 5,396 people per square mile and 30,413 residents. To put that into perspective, and also according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Chehalis, Wash., has a land area of 5.53 square miles with 1,132 people per square mile and 7,299 residents. However, the number of College Park residents indicated by the Census survey may be off. The University of Maryland (UMD), of which the city was built around in the late 1800s, registered 26,826 undergraduate students in fall 2011. In addition to that, the city has 17 neighborhoods outside of the university that are filled with people, far outnumbering the remaining 3,587 residents that should be left given the number of registered students (give and take a few residents and students due to the one year’s difference of data between the U.S. Census Bureau and the university). Therefore, these notions suggest that not all of the residents or students who live in College Park participated in the Census survey and that far more people live in the city’s boundaries than the survey indicates, which is not surprising given the constantly hectic schedules that students and workers often have.

With UMD as the city’s flagship university, business and attraction, more and more businesses and real estate projects are being built to accommodate its large student population. With the number of people they attract, these projects and the unversity, in turn, are causing problems–including an overcrowding population and a swell of daily traffic on Baltimore Avenue/Route 1–that are growing and worsening by the day.

In the far left, commuters get off of the Metrorail Green Line (Greenbelt) at College Park-University of Maryland station. Many residents ride the Green Line to get to and from Downtown Washington. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

In the far left, commuters get off of the Metrorail Green Line (Greenbelt) at College Park-University of Maryland station. Many residents ride the Green Line to get to and from Downtown Washington. Photo by Pamela Seaton.

Thankfully, to ease one of its problems, College Park has multiple modes of public transportation that can help residents and workers avoid the hassle of sitting through the city’s constant traffic as much as possible (except on occasions when public transportation vehicles are also caught in traffic; see the first photo).  The most prominent is its College Park-University of Maryland station, which is part of the Metrorail system of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Departing from that station are the Yellow and Green Lines. The Yellow Line (Huntington) travels throughout Washington, including stops at Fort Totten (which connects to the Red Line), U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, Gallery Place/Chinatown (which connects to the Red Line) and L’Enfant Plaza (which connects to the Orange and Blue Lines) stations. It also stops at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va, and ends at Huntington station in Huntington, Va. The Yellow Line (Franconia-Springfield) travels the same route as the other Yellow Line until it reaches King Street-Old Town station in Alexandria, Va., and then it travels two more stops until it reaches at Franconia-Springfield station in Springfield, Va. The Green Line (Branch Avenue) also travels the same route as the Yellow Lines until it reaches L’Enfant Plaza station and then it makes a few more stops, including at Navy Yard-Ballpark, Anacostia and Naylor Road stations, until it reaches Branch Avenue station in Suitland, Md. The Green Line (Greenbelt) only travels one stop to Greenbelt station in Greenbelt, Md.

There are also a number of buses that service the city. The 81, 82, 83, 83X and 86 are all buses of the official College Park Line. The College Park Line buses service the following locations: Calverton (86), Cherry Hill Park Campground (81, 83, 83X), Seven Springs Village (81, 83), Greenbelt station, University of Maryland (81, 83, 86), College Park (81, 83, 86), College Park-University of Maryland station (83 Mon-Sat, 83X Mon-Fri, 86 daily), Riverdale Park (81, 83, 86), Prince George’s Plaza station (86), Hyattsville (81, 83, 86), Mt. Rainer and Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood station. Additional WMATA buses include the C2, C8, F6, J4, R11, R12 and TB14. TheBus, another transit system, has the bus routes 14 and 17 that stop at College Park-University of Maryland station. The CTC G bus to Laurel Mall also stops at the station.

If the resident or worker is in the mood for regional rail, the MARC Camden Line stops at College Park-University of Maryland station as well. It starts at the Camden Yards in Downtown Baltimore and passes through the major stops of Dorsey, Laurel and College Park before ending at Union Station in Washington.

So, yes, it may seem as though that you can hardly drive throughout College Park without encountering traffic, but do not lose hope. With the numerous modes of public transportation you can utilize, your chances of getting caught in traffic are significantly lowered. Also, the more people utilize public transportation, the less toxic fumes and car pollution are emitted into the air from vehicles, which can be pivotal in a city bursting with people. So, take a chance on public transportation and bring along a few friends. You will be glad you did!

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