Greater Baltimore Committee President Donald C. Fry and the Baltimore Transit Alliance have commended Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan and Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., for significantly strengthening planned capital spending for Baltimore-area mass transit during the next six years. The changes were part of Maryland’s final version of its Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) released last week by Governor Ehrlich.
The Greater Baltimore Committee and the Baltimore Transit Alliance argued last year that transit funding in the earlier draft plan was inadequate to support the development of a safe, reliable and attractive transit system that is needed in the Baltimore region. Such a system is a top priority for the GBC, the region’s most prominent organization of business leaders, and the Baltimore Transit Alliance, a diverse group of transit advocates that is housed at the GBC.
“We want to commend you and Governor Ehrlich for the strong, positive changes you made in the final CTP,” GBC President Donald C. Fry wrote in a January 27 letter to Flanagan. Fry noted that, of a $600 million increase in overall funding from the draft to the final budget, the majority of it went to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), which operates mass transit in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
“We understand the challenge of supporting a diverse set of statewide transportation needs with limited funding,” wrote Fry. “We very much appreciate your leadership in this area and hope you continue to recognize the important role that public transportation plays in the health and prosperity of the Baltimore region.”
The final Consolidated Transportation Program budget contains $360 million in added funding for the MTA, compared to the draft long-term transportation budget that was previewed last fall by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Additional funding in the final transportation spending plan includes an 87 percent increase in MTA funding for maintenance. Funding for bus replacement and MARC track improvements have also been increased substantially from the draft budget.
While the final budget, totaling $9.2 billion, reflects a 1 percent decline in overall planned capital spending on transportation between fiscal 2006 and 2011, it increases capital funding for MTA by 4 percent.
Much of the added funding is committed to priorities in the Baltimore Transit Alliance’s analysis of the draft transportation budget last fall. For example, the final budget includes:
- $155 million in additional funding for maintenance projects;
- $88 million in additional funding for the purchase of replacement buses;
- $29 million in track improvements for the MARC commuter rail system.
Comparisons of transit funding levels in the draft and final FY 2006-2011 budgets
GBC president Donald Fry’s letter to MDOT Secretary Flanagan