By Baltimore Sun Editorial Board
November 4, 2019
Too often, public transit is perceived as a handout to the urban poor that takes away from road construction, which is regarded as a more pro-growth, pro-business approach to transportation. Nothing could be further from the truth. And as Exhibit A, we would point to the letters dispatched recently from Baltimore’s top business leaders to Gov. Larry Hogan urging him to increase funding to the Maryland Transit Administration for expanded city service. Their plea isn’t about directing more bus traffic to low-income neighborhoods, necessarily (although it’s likely they’d be perfectly happy to see that, too). It’s about a very practical problem: Their prospective employees want to be connected by transit, not by car. Businesses need transit to prosper.
We’ve made this point before. It came up, for example, when Montgomery County-based Marriott International began exploring a move from a parking-rich location well-served by Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway to downtown Bethesda several years ago. To get the best and brightest to work for the company, officials argued, they needed to be better connected to transit lines. And that’s one of the essential points the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Baltimore Business Mobility Roundtable have made. They warned the governor in an August missive that Baltimore’s economic future depended on improved transit service to keep pace with peer cities.
In other words, you can’t get to places easily by bus, light rail and subway in Baltimore now, and even if you try, it takes too long. And keep in mind this letter was signed by people like real estate developer Thomas Buzzuto, T. Rowe Price CEO Bill Stromberg, BGE CEO Calvin G. Butler Jr. and Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels. They run bottom line organizations. They aren’t looking for a handout, they’re looking to compete on a level playing field. “A month-long shutdown of the Baltimore metro system last August is a stark reminder of the importance of adequate system maintenance and preservation,” they wrote in an Oct. 28 letter. And they specifically warned about a lack of transit investment in “key employment centers” such as Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Port Covington.
Read the complete commentary here.