March 7, 2020
State-run buses in Baltimore break down about six times more frequently than buses in St. Louis or Denver. A state-run subway through the city fails five times more often those in Cleveland or D.C. And, Baltimore’s light rail system breaks down three times more than Pittsburgh’s or Salt Lake City’s.
Maryland Transit Administration vehicles fail or break down far more often than in most other comparable cities, according to the most recent Federal Transit Administration data.
“On MTA trains and buses, riders and operators face more frequent breakdowns than on other systems around the U.S,” says Del. Brooke Lierman, a Baltimore Democrat who is co-chairwoman of the Maryland Transit Caucus. “Maryland MTA is worst in the nation for major failures.”
Lierman is circulating a slideshow highlighting the state’s high rate of public transit breakdowns as she pushes for increased funding for capital transit projects. She has submitted legislation, backed by the pro-business Greater Baltimore Committee and area county executives, that would require a minimum funding level of $500 million per year for the Maryland Transit Administration’s capital budget over the next six years ― an increase of more than $100 million annually.
The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by Sen. Craig Zucker, a Montgomery County Democrat.
The funding would help address the MTA’s projected funding shortfall of more than $2 billion over the next decade.
In an interview, MTA CEO Kevin B. Quinn Jr. said that while MTA does have more breakdowns than the cities listed in Lierman’s chart, eight other systems in the country have higher failure rates.
One reason why Maryland has fallen behind other cities, Quinn said, is that several years ago the agency missed a deadline to make its annual purchase of new buses to replace those that are falling apart. That was in fiscal year 2015, before Quinn took the job in 2017.