September 28, 2020
Mr. Gregory I. Slater
Secretary of Transportation
Maryland Department of Transportation
P. O. Box 548
Harry R. Hughes Department of Transportation Building
7201 Corporate Center Drive
Hanover, Maryland 21076 – 0548
Dear Secretary Slater,
We really appreciated you taking the time to meet with us last April, and explaining to us your vision for MDOT. We were also pleased to have the opportunity to share our vision and agenda on behalf of Transit Choices.
Since that time, we are aware the pandemic and the accompanying decline in transit revenues and state tax revenues have made your job even more challenging and difficult.
However, we are writing now on behalf of Transit Choices to request that additional funding be made available for the MTA in the Baltimore region.
It has been brought to our attention that the Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act of 2018 included additional funding for the MTA. It states:
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020, THE GOVERNOR SHALL INCLUDE IN THE STATE BUDGET AN APPROPRIATION FROM THE TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND FOR THE OPERATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION THAT IS EQUAL TO THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE OPERATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION IN THE FISCAL YEAR 2019STATE BUDGET AS INTRODUCED, INCREASED BY
AT LEAST 4.4%.
FOR EACH OF FISCAL YEARS 2021AND 2022, THE GOVERNOR SHALL INCLUDE IN THE STATE BUDGET AN APPROPRIATION FROM THE TRANSPORTATION TRUST FUND FOR THE OPERATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION THAT IS EQUAL TO THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE
OPERATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION IN THE STATE BUDGET FOR THE IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING FISCAL YEAR,INCREASED BY AT LEAST 4.4%.
Additionally, it is our understanding that there have been no funding cuts to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), therefore, we respectfully request that you honor the law for both the Washington Region and the Baltimore Region and restore the MTA funding.
Transportation access is one of the fundamental objectives of government as a means to provide access to jobs, services, recreation, and all other elements of the movement of people and goods. It is also one
of the most important ways the public sector can enable residents to live healthy, productive lives. Lack of transportation access can have significant impacts at an individual, community, state, and federal level.
One of the key elements of structural racism in the Baltimore region has been our poor public transit system. It discriminates against those who are transit dependent making it difficult for them to get to employment and educational opportunities, as well as healthcare and even healthy food in a reliable manner.
With the present funding shortfall at both state and local levels, it is going to be difficult to maintain the transit system we have much less improve it. Since the mood of the country seems to want to address the causes of structural racism, addressing the funding shortfall for transit is one key to correcting these inequalities.
It is essential that we look now at all possible solutions to the public transit dilemma in order to create a system which provides more equity of opportunity for all our citizens including the 30% of Baltimoreans
who have no access to automobiles, but many of whom work jobs that are now recognized as essential services in our economy.
Again, we truly appreciate the difficult challenges facing you because of the pandemic. But we feel strongly that now is the time to redirect our public investment towards a 21st century public transit system that will carry people throughout the region to their destinations quickly and efficiently.
Thank you for your leadership.
James W. Rouse, Jr.
Transit Choices Co-founder