Baltimore Sun: Baltimore’s 1st transit equity analysis seeks to guide federal money to the city’s long-neglected ‘Black Butterfly’

MTA bus

By Colin Campbell
September 29, 2021

The following is an excerpt from the original Baltimore Sun article.

The maps of Baltimore in a new study of transit equity remind Lawrence Brown of the infamous 1930s residential security map segregating the city’s neighborhoods by race and redlining Black residents into the areas east and west of downtown.

The analysis by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition shows different city neighborhoods’ access to transit as well as social vulnerability, pollution and health. The darkest colors represent the areas of greatest need.

“The patterns are unmistakable,” said Brown, author of “The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America,” which examines the ongoing effects of redlining and other racist policies.

In Baltimore, where about one in three people lacks access to a car, the report concluded that public transit “often fails to get people to their destinations in a reasonable amount of time.” The analysis called insufficient service “especially concerning” due to the high concentration of low-income, minority riders, “many of whom during the COVID-19 pandemic were classified as ‘essential workers.'”

As Baltimore and other areas of the country prepare to receive and distribute historic levels of federal transportation funding, the authors of the “Transit Equity & Environmental Health in Baltimore” report hope it won’t just identify the areas of Baltimore facing the biggest challenges.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said generations of policy decisions in “the birthplace of redlining,” as he called the city, created stark inequality — particularly in West and East Baltimore.

The Democratic mayor said devoting funding to transit will be critical to improving the region’s buses, subway, light rail and MARC train for Baltimore residents, workers and visitors.

“Baltimoreans deserve a transit system designed to accommodate their needs first,” Scott said in a statement. “Investing in equitable transportation infrastructure is paramount to ensuring residents in our historically-redlined neighborhoods can effectively and reliably get around town.”

Don Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, a regional business advocacy group that favors improved transit, said in an email that the analysis “is worthy of serious consideration as short- and long-range plans are developed for public transportation in Baltimore City.”

Investing more in equitable transit will give residents and neighborhoods most affected by poverty, disinvestment and lack of transportation options “greater access to reliable, fast transportation to jobs, health care, workforce training opportunities and day-to-day activities,” Fry said.

“Ensuring efficient and reliable transportation access is a proven generational pathway out of poverty while enhancing job and career advancement,” Fry continued. “This study confirms, once again, that the need for improved transportation access must be a high-priority diversity and equity goal for Baltimore City, working in tandem with elected leaders and transportation officials, to attain in the near future.”

Read the complete article.

Source: The Baltimore Sun

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