Getting to High School in Baltimore: Student Commuting and Public Transportation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Baltimore Education Research Consortium

Publication Date


Date Added



This report is the first publication of a multi-year project examining the relationship between student commutes using public transportation and on-time arrival and absenteeism. This report begins to develop a basic understanding of how students commute to high school in Baltimore with a focus on those using public transportation. The report is structured as a series of questions and the answers to those questions. A model was developed of the public transportation network in Baltimore using geographic information systems (GIS) software. From that network, the most efficient routes to school (routes that took the shortest overall time) for all high school students who lived in Baltimore City and were enrolled in a public high school during the 2014-15 school year were estimated. Researchers believe that they are a reasonable approximation, especially in the absence of other means of observing student commutes. The methodological appendix at the end of the report explains the models, assumptions and data in more detail. It is especially important to develop an understanding of student commutes now, given the upcoming significant changes to the public transportation system that will be fully implemented by the summer of 2017. The Maryland Transit Administration's (MTA) BaltimoreLink Plan represents a major overhaul of the of the local bus system in Baltimore. The primary goals of BaltimoreLink are to improve the reliability of the system, increase access to high-frequency transit, strengthen the connection between the bus and rail systems, and increase service to job centers in the metropolitan area. The initiative also includes funding for transfer facilities, dedicated bus lanes, signal priority, and signs. The report begins with basic information about where schools and students are located and the public transportation system in Baltimore to orient the reader to the basic structure of both systems and how they intersect spatially. The remainder of the report explores questions related to key aspects of commuting to school using public transportation such as travel times, the complexity of routes to school and student safety.



Comments/Extra Notes

Additional authors: Roberson, Ruth; Siekmeier, John