TRANSPORTATION

Reliable, comprehensive public transit is at the heart of the path to upward mobility. It is a cornerstone of every quality-of-life study for a reason: it benefits everyone. [51] As an educator I saw, every day how public transportation helped people get to school or jobs, but in some cases the trips took an hour or more just to travel a few miles. Public transportation that works allows those unable to afford their own car the chance reach higher paying jobs far from where they live.[52] Employers benefit when the potential workforce is increased.[53] Allowing for greater concentration of labor helps increase productivity. Additionally, Baltimore residents disproportionately suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases.[54] But when more and more people use public transportation instead of their own personal automobiles the air in our city improves.[55]

 

Because of Maryland’s tax structure, the funding for major transportation investments must come from the state. We will support investments in expanding our transit system such as restoring the Red Line that connect residents with jobs. Although rail lines are expensive, they are the cleanest, most efficient solution we have for moving people quickly and affordably in the long term. An effective rail system, while costly, carries with it a host of benefits that greatly improve the livability of any city.[56]

 

Because the number of corridors where rail can be justified is limited,we will also put forward legislation to encourage Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems like those in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and cities throughout South America. BRT is currently under development in Montgomery County.[57] True BRT systems operate like rail with their own separate lanes, comfortable stations, and pre-payment of fares.[58] Such systems are less expensive than heavy rail and even light rail systems but can carry almost as many passengers.[59] I would provide state funds to help build these systems, but only if the systems met certain benchmarks for quality.

 

We also need to focus on getting the best possible return in the areas where we already have a system in place. The 41st district is served by both the Metro and Light Rail, but many of the stations are isolated and lack mixed use development that would provide residents with needed services, increase property tax yields, and encourage more people to ride the trains. Specifically, the West Cold Spring, Rogers Avenue, and Reisterstown Plaza metro stations could enliven our neighborhoods with walkable, mixed use development. We will encourage the state government to work with private developers to replace parking lots with houses and jobs.

 

Baltimore is one of the most unfriendly major cities for cyclists in the country. We will work to use state funds to encourage Baltimore and cities across Maryland to change that. Making a city more bike friendly with bike lanes and bike-friendly public transit accomplishes a variety of goals. It moves people away from emissions-heavy forms of transportation, it promotes healthy activity, and it calms vehicular traffic. Cycling is an integral part of any liveable city and will use state funds to expand it in Baltimore and all over Maryland.[60]

 

I envision schools that provide critical wraparound services. One of those services should be mandatory drivers education in Maryland high schools. The ability to operate a motor vehicle is often critical for employment and can allow students whose families may not have a car or even the money for drivers education to become competent drivers.


The residents of the poorest areas of Baltimore, some of them right here in the 41st District, are those least likely to be served by adequate roads or transit, and by extension be able to reach high-paying jobs and rise out of poverty.[61] Effective and affordable public transit can increase the value of these families’ homes and allow them to hold good jobs and move out of poverty.

OUR PLAN

Restore the Red Line.

 

Create subsidies for BRT systems around the state to help local governments put them in place.

 

Expand service and efficiency on existing platforms.

 

Encourage development near transit hubs and along busy corridors to make use of the land near these stations and bring people to the existing services.

 

Use state funds to encourage expansion of cycling infrastructure and its integration with other forms of transportation.

Make drivers education mandatory for

Maryland high schools to make sure students graduate ready for life after high school.

 

51 Mineta Transportation Institute, Benefits of Transit in the United States, 2015, p. 4-5.

52 Ibid, p. 13-15.

53 Ibid, p. 13-15.

54 “State of Health in Baltimore: White Paper 2017,” Baltimore City Health Department. The City of Baltimore, March 2017.

55 USDOT, Applicability of Bogotá’s TransMilenio BRT System, 2006, p. x.

56 What is Transit-Oriented Development and Why Now?, Oakland, CA: Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, 2007, p. 5-7.

57 Ryan, Kate, Montgomery County’s Bus Rapid Transit Plan Gets Rolling. WTOP. June 13, 2017.

58 USDOT, Applicability of Bogotá’s TransMilenio BRT System, 2006, p. vii.

59 Ibid, p. xii-xiii.

60 2015 Baltimore City Bike Master Plan, Baltimore, MD: Baltimore City Department of Transportation. March 2015, p. 1, 3-4.

61 Baltimore Region Transportation Improvement Program 2016-2019. Baltimore, MD: The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board on behalf of The Baltimore Metropolitan Council, 2016, p. 4-5, 14-15.

Authority: Friends of J.D. Merrill, Josh K. Russakis, Treasurer.

P.O. Box 5685, Baltimore, MD 21210