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Transport toll

WHILE THE fire that raged beneath the city for five days has now been extinguished, the crippling effect on transport on the streets above remains undiminished.

The city's major north-south thoroughfare of Howard Street remains closed and the eastwest running underground Metro system is the only mode of public transport unaffected by the fire.

Almost all bus services are heavily diverted and delayed, and the north-south 43km light rail system - which runs along Howard Street - is stopping well short of the city centre.

'Gridlock' was how Baltimore's Mass Transit Authority (MTA) spokesman Suzanne Bond described the scenes during the Monday morning rush hour, as most commuters ignored emergency measures set up by the MTA to keep cars out of the city centre.

The MTA had hoped to persuade commuters from the south of the city to use a free park and ride scheme. Car commuters were encouraged to leave their vehicles at light rail stations just outside the city centre and pick up replacement buses into the city centre.

However, the Metro reported just 2,000 passengers above the July average of 48,000 on Monday morning. 'The Metro showed strong usage, but we would have liked to have seen more, ' said Bond.

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