The MTA Bus Line So Unreliable That One Rider Put Up “Missing” Posters
On weekdays, the MTA Route 27 bus runs every 20 minutes from roughly 4:30 a.m. to 2:45 a.m. between the Reisterstown Plaza subway station and Port Covington, with stops in Hampden, Remington, Station North, downtown, and a few other locations. Or at least, it’s supposed to do that. But for frequent riders of the line, it’s matchless unreliability has become legendary. People who’ve had to deal with it on the regular tend to type in all caps when answering questions about it. For real.
Baltimore playwright Lola Pierson took the 27 in her high school days, but after one too many times waiting in vain, she gave up and started walking her route instead. “The 27 wouldn’t come for like an hour, and then three in a row would come!” Pierson recalls. “Plus, they would do route alterations and not tell you, so you’d end up somewhere totally crazy with no way to get home.”
Artist and musician Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez has taken to incorporating the bus line into his commercial illustrations. “I draw it into all of them and curse it to hell,” he explains. “On Howard Street where I used to try and grab it to get to Hampden, there are a seemingly endless number of 19s, all of them carrying at most three people. One after another they come, and then finally you get a 27 that’s either 30 minutes late or 30 minutes early.”
Rob Brulinski was so fed up with trying to catch the 27, he vented his frustration by hanging facetious “Missing” fliers around town. Maybe you’ve seen them. The anger that inspired them is almost palpable. The missing-person premise quickly unravels and rage wins out over humor about halfway down the bullet points.
I got in touch with Brulinski and asked him a few questions about the 27 and his hilariously bitter flier.
How long have you been taking the 27? Where do you get on and off?
I would take it between Mt Vernon to Hampden for work (11 a.m.-7 p.m.). I have been taking the 27 line for 3 months now and public transportation (bus, metro, light rail) for three years. Don’t even bother with a route that requires taking a bus to another bus, it has never worked for me… ever.
How often does it give you trouble?
There’s no science behind it, but at least three times a week and especially when you really need to be somewhere on time. Also on chilly and rainy nights!
What kinds of things go wrong?
Oh where do I start? Late February, I was headed to an 11 a.m. job interview and waited at the bus stop from 9:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m. thinking that I was pretty much screwed. Thankfully a friend picked me up.
After work on a Tuesday night, waiting at the bus stop in the pouring rain with another person, it never came, and we ended up splitting a taxi cab ride.
Friends attempt to catch the bus to my place in Hampden but end up just staying home because it never shows up on time and then passes them! I really like it when the bus just drives past me while I’m standing at the bus stop. I always make sure to wave my $1.60 in the air at them, AKA hailing a bus.
Do you still ride it?
I’m hesitant to rely on it. The weather has gotten a bit better, so I walk to my destination or hail a cab from Penn Station for around $7.
What was the last straw before you resorted to satirical fliering?
The last straw was last Saturday night, when my friend stood at the 27 line bus stop (at the Cultural Center) for nearly two hours and when she finally saw it (around 10:30 p.m.), it simply passed her! It wasn’t full or out of order. In the past, I’ve posted to the Maryland Transit Facebook page several times and even participated in those stupid text message surveys, but nothing has ever changed. So I thought to myself, F— it, I’m making “Missing” flyers, and hopefully it’ll work out better.