BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, January 30, 2023) – Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) released the recommendations of the Baltimore Regional Transit Governing and Funding Workgroup on Monday. The workgroup was formed by the BMC Board of Directors in July of 2022 to develop recommendations for the future of transit in our region.
The workgroup was chaired by Delegate Tony Bridges (Baltimore City, District 41), a member of the BMC Board of Directors. “I’m proud of the results from this group, and I’m looking forward to keeping our momentum rolling,” said Bridges. “Acting on these recommendations would be a big step toward achieving more equitable, accessible and accountable transit for Baltimore.”
The workgroup included more than a dozen leaders from local community groups, planning agencies, businesses and unions. Senator Mary Washington (Baltimore City, District 43) represented the State Senate on the workgroup. Members met monthly through fall 2022 to develop the recommendations, hearing public comments at each session.
The report includes five recommendations for timely action by our local governments, the Maryland General Assembly and the Moore-Miller administration.
- To create a Baltimore Regional Transit Commission;
- To require a Regional Consolidated Transportation Plan tour;
- To restructure the LOTS Programs so that flexible funds can support both existing and growing transit;
- To reconstitute and empower the Maryland Transportation Commission to provide oversight and transparency to the CTP process; and
- To conduct a formal study of the creation of a Baltimore Regional Transit Authority.
See the full report for more details.
“This could be a game changer for helping more residents across the region access jobs, healthcare, education, recreation – everything that supports increased quality of life,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, BMC’s board chair. “Our transit system is important to every county in the Baltimore region and we look forward to partnering with the Moore-Miller administration on these efforts.”
The report notes that the Baltimore region is the only large metropolitan area in the nation with a transit system operated by a state agency without the oversight of a board or commission. Local stakeholders lack influence on how the regional transit network is planned, built, operated and funded.
The report recommends the creation of a Baltimore Regional Transit Commission to support the operations of MTA’s core service network in the Baltimore region as a first step. It also highlights the need to support growth of the region’s Locally Operated Transit Systems, particularly in areas not currently served by Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).
“Baltimore’s transit system is one of the largest in the United States, but our communities have little voice in their own system,” said Dr. Celeste Chavis, a professor of transportation and urban infrastructure studies at Morgan State University and workgroup member. “Execution of the recommendations in this report will have a profound impact on decades to come.”
The report highlights a lack of investment in Baltimore’s core transit network. After the cancellation of the Red Line, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) moved forward with the construction of the Purple Line in the DC suburbs. The Purple Line’s cost overruns alone have exceeded the entire estimated costs of the Red Line. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s regional transit system hasn’t seen a new rail line since 1993.
The report also notes that MTA has identified a nearly $2 billion in funds needed to maintain a state of good repair for their assets over the next decade. Finally, the report recommends that the Maryland General Assembly formally study the merits of an independent Baltimore Regional Transit Authority. That recommendation calls for a final report in the fall of 2024.
BMC Executive Director Mike Kelly thanked the members of the workgroup for their thoughtful participation, and feels optimistic about the prospect of meaningful progress.
“These recommendations outline early but important steps in a much longer journey,” Kelly said. “We have a really significant opportunity here.”
Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC) works collaboratively with the chief elected officials in the region to create initiatives to improve quality of life and economic vitality. As the Baltimore region’s council of governments, BMC hosts the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) and supports local government by coordinating efforts in a range of policy areas including emergency preparedness, housing, cooperative purchasing, environmental planning and workforce development.
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