I really enjoyed writing my last Baltimore vs. Seattle blog so I thought I’d try my hand at another one; this time we’re diving into transportation.
Getting around a city is one of the most important aspects when exploring, and public transportation obviously plays a huge role in that. Hence here’s a breakdown of the train, bus, and private transportation options in the Baltimore and Seattle areas.
Seattle has one main bus system that operates within a 2-3-hour radius of the city. While this sounds nice, and believe me it is, these busses are highly unreliable in terms of time, and they fill up very quickly during event times and rush hour. On the flip side, bus fare is only a few dollars and you get a transfer pass that lets you on any other bus within the next hour for free. Furthermore, because the system is so connected you can reach almost any destination by just transferring from bus to bus.
Baltimore has a variety of different bus systems that operate within the city and outside its limits. While having multiple systems requires far more transferring, walking, and payment, it means that you have a variety of different resources you can tap into, and there is always a bus right around the corner. What’s nice is that many of these bus systems are free, and shuttles like the JHMI and Charm City Circulator will take you around certain pockets of the city quickly, comfortably, and for no cost.
Overall I’d say if you want to go somewhere nearby, Baltimore has the better bus system, as their never-ending stream of buses means that you can almost always hop on a bus and start heading towards your destination within 5-10 minutes. If you’re looking to go somewhere outside of a 20 minute radius, however, Seattle’s exchange policy, low fares, and extensively connected bus system reign superior.
Seattle has a light rail system which takes you around different parts of Seattle for a very low price, and if you are a University of Washington student you get to ride for free. It isn’t very expansive, and barely operates outside of city limits, but for the price and convenience it’s a great bet. Outside of the light rail Seattle has a main station where you can ride trains to major and midsize cities in Washington, and even go to other nearby states. Said service is very expensive, however, and is impractical for local transportation purposes.
Baltimore has a main train station which has trains to the airport and a few other local destinations. For the most part, however, the trains go out to other cities around the east coast. What’s nice is that the prices on these trains is very reasonable, and there is a bevy of cities that you have access to from Penn Station.
Unless you’re in the city limits of Seattle and want to go to a different part of the city, the train system in Sea-town simply isn’t feasible. Baltimore wins here, though not by much.
This category is really just limited to private transportation services like Lyft and Uber. In this category I see a clear winner, as the city of Seattle has an insanely high number of Uber and Lyft drivers working within the city. As long as you’re within city limits you can almost always get an Uber within five minutes, and furthermore, because there are just so many drivers, surge pricing rarely applies. This means that you get to your destination quicker and you pay less, which is really nice. Uber and Lyft operate extensively in the Baltimore area, but just not to that scale, and wait times for vehicles combined with surge pricing make it less attractive; the emerald city takes the crown here.
Overall Winner: What I’ve taken from doing this breakdown is that there are a lot of really great long distance public transportation options in the pacific northwest, and that charm city boasts a variety of different short distance public transport options. If you’re willing to shell out some more money then Seattle is right for you, as their public transport costs more but is more connected, while if you’re on a budget Baltimore is great. It really depends on what you’re looking for.