The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore business leaders urge Hogan to increase MTA funding

By Colin Campbell
October 31, 2019

MTA busBusiness leaders employing thousands of workers in Baltimore are urging Gov. Larry Hogan to increase funding to the Maryland Transit Administration for projects in the area, saying in a letter, “the inadequacy of the current transportation network is hindering workforce participation and economic potential in our region.”

In a separate letter, some of the same business executives asked MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn to provide a list of the projects “that will be delayed or deferred” over the next six years, during which the agency’s funding is expected to fall by 58%, according to the state’s latest draft Consolidated Transportation Plan.

The letters from the Baltimore Business Mobility Roundtable and the Greater Baltimore Committee, respectively, both raised concerns about the planned reduction, especially in light of the agency’s estimated $2 billion gap in needed funding for safety, regulatory compliance and system enhancements over the next decade.

“The draft CTP fails to meet the funding level … that is necessary to reduce the multibillion dollar backlog needed to maintain the existing system in a state of good repair,” the Roundtable wrote to Hogan. “A month-long shutdown of the Baltimore metro system last August is a stark reminder of the importance of adequate system maintenance and preservation.”

Hogan’s office and the MTA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The letters were both dated Monday.

The agency previously has argued that the falling funding is a result of the agency completing “once-in-a-generation projects,” such as a $448 million replacement of Baltimore Metro Subway cars, a $100 million overhaul of light rail cars and a $168 million replacement and overhaul of MARC coaches and locomotives.

But the Greater Baltimore Committee said in its letter to Quinn that “the current system preservation needs as outlined in your report are significant enough to warrant sustained if not increased capital funding levels, and that new capital projects should move into the program as those currently underway near completion.”

The letter continues, “the GBC is concerned that the proposed reduction to MTA’s capital program budget will further delay necessary system preservation projects — compounding the cost and time to return the system to a state of good repair — and jeopardize the safe and efficient continual operation of the system. Additionally, the reductions will impede the MTA’s ability to implement the service improvements and expansions that will be identified in the Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan.”

Source: The Baltimore Sun

Read the complete article here.

Also see: The Baltimore Sun: Have thoughts about Baltimore-area transit? The MTA wants input on its plans for the next 25 years.