July 17, 2013


Darcy Arcadia, Demetria Barrett, Doreen Bolger, Robin Budish, Scott Burkholder, Art Cohen, Amber Collins, Grant Corley, Kelly Cross, Terry Cummings, Rufus Davis, Charlie Duff, Peter Duvall, Dan Engelberg, Nate Evans, Terry Freeland, Liz Gordon, Tighe Greenhaigh, Mark Heishman, Bon Hellauer, Steve Holt, Chris Janian, Valorie LaCour, Jeff LaNoue, Chris Merriam, Mike Molla, Ed Myers, Sallye Perrin, Klaus Philipsen, Wally Pinkard, Steven Rivelis, Barry Robinson, Zach Rogers, Jimmy Rouse, Carol Silldorff, Greg Smith, Sandy Sparks, Maris St. Cyr, Robyn Stegman, Bill Struever, Michael Walk, Michele Whelley

Moderator: Jimmy Rouse

  • Jimmy welcomed the 42 attendees and thanked them for their interest in creating a real mass transit system in Baltimore. He stated that the turnout on a hot July day is proof of the energy behind this effort.
  • Transit Choices, a coalition of organizations, institutions, entrepreneurs and individuals now has 67 signatories to its mission statement. An updated list of signatures was provided, a copy of which is attached.
  • Transit Choices has met with both city & state DOT officials and has their interest and support. We are in a unique position to work on implementing our vision for a unified mass transit system in Baltimore.
  • We have formed work groups around each of the modes of transit both existing and possible: light rail, Marc trains, water taxi, metro, buses & circulators, streetcars, car sharing, bikes & bike sharing and pedestrian facilities. Our working method will be for each group to come up with a vision, and then specific recommendations about how that vision can be implemented. We will meet monthly and at every meeting, we will ask each group to formulate an action plan and report back the following month on their progress.
  • We are working on a Transit Choices website so that the vision and specific recommendations of each work group can be accessible. We will encourage dialogue and discussion on the website.
  • The key to Transit Choices success will be the ability to deliver tangible and measurable results quickly. With this, Jimmy turned the meeting over to Bill Struever to talk about his “Quick Hits” strategy for the coming year.

Work Group Updates

  1. Bill Struever – “Quick Hits”
    • The Red Line project is a big priority for the Governor, although Leif Dormsjo (Acting Deputy Secretary MDOT) has pointed out to the Transit Choices group that there are issues about getting the project up and running.
    • Aside from the Red Line project, there are other small well defined, high visibility, high impact various transit projects that if implemented, would dramatize the city’s commitment for a unified transit vision by 2014 such as:
      • MARC commuter rail: the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance (CMTA) is working to expand the hours of operation seven days a week
      • Circulator: expansion of service from Penn Station to Charles Village, Locust Point, Ft. McHenry, Canton and Canton Crossing
      • Water Taxi: expand the current service to make it a commuter system
      • Bikes: making Baltimore a “biking” town is on the move and is on the Mayor’s agenda. Penn Station may become a bike hub with the addition of bike share
      • MTA: look at the bus system in a more creative way to maximize efficiency
    • For all of the “Quick Hits”, it is key to define the vision, put numbers on it and rally the troops to get things funded.
    • It is important to deliver investments and jobs when discussing various transit modes. We should be looking at TOD for economic renewal – this opportunity could be great for transit in the city and could make Baltimore a more transit town.
  2. Michele Whelley – “MARC Train and CMTA Updates”
    • CMTA focused on MARC after the General Assembly in 2011 and is working on the following:
      • Capacity on the tracks to expand service
      • The regional reach and access to employment growth centers
    • CMTA’s consultant assessed the feasibility of expanding service, vetting basic assumptions with MTA staff before formulating the recommendations.
    • CMTA has come up with a number of recommendations on the operating side of MARC service, including:
      • Late night service
      • Mid-day express service
      • Weekend service
    • The Baltimore business community wants to travel back and forth from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. quickly and efficiently.
    • CMTA has also come up with a list of capital projects:
      • New MARC station at Bayview
      • Station improvements at the W. Baltimore MARC station
    • Transit must provide access to jobs.
    • Presently, a voice for transit without regard to a specific modality does not exist for Baltimore Transportation.
    • CMTA has launched a grass-roots effort to get people to sign on as supporters of wanting more reliable and accessible transit in Baltimore – all signatures will be sent to every elected official in central Maryland.
    • Attached are electronic copies of handouts that were distributed
  3. Klaus Philipsen – “Red Line Update”
    • Klaus has participated as part of a consultant team for the Red Line project for many years. It is now time to move the Red Line over the finish line not discuss its design. The consultant team is instructed to bring the design and engineering to 60% and then 100% in the next 15 months.
    • The total project is estimated to cost 2.6.billion with funding application to FTA scheduled for this fall after the CTP (Consolidated Transportation Plan) has been released by MDOT. A FTP funding report can be expected for spring 2014 with a full funding agreement in the fall of 2014. Construction starting in 2015 and operational in 2021.
    • The Red Line will not answer every last need, remaining gaps provide opportunities for additional transit options and modes.
    • Building the Red Line alone would not be sufficient, we also need to invest in the communities along the routes.
    • The mayor recently stated that cities that don’t do great transit fall behind and that the Red Line could tie the growth initiative together.
    • On the Red Line there may be P3 (public/private partnership) and development opportunities.
  4. Wally Pinkard – “Biking Work Group” – Update
    • The group has more work to do, but is making progress
    • Chris Merriam with Bikemore sent the mayor a letter outlining what can be achieved in the next 12 months to improve biking. The requests were reasonable, rather than “shooting for the moon” in an effort to build a positive working relationship– attached is an electronic copy of the letter.
    • Nate Evans reported that there are many “biking” projects in the pipeline
      • Bike Share launch will talk place in the spring
      • Updating the bike master plan to include bike maps which should be good for the next 15 years
      • Downtown bike network – cycle tracks separated by parked cars and other buffers should be constructed next year

Other Discussion Points:

  • Michael Walk – the MTA is currently compiling plans to take a serious look at its bus network through a study currently called “Quality and Access.” The study aims to improve bus service and provide implementable recommendations for the fall of 2014.
  • Art Cohen – stated that when the transportation funding was approved by the General Assembly this past Spring, there was something included about creating a regional transportation authority and asked about the current status. Michele Whelley responded that although a commission has not yet been approved by the Governor or Secretary Jim Smith, it is a requirement in the transportation bill. The commission will then have until December of this year to make its report.
  • Grant Corley – asked about support for the Red Line project from the Transit Choices group – Jimmy Rouse responded that although there is a diversity of opinion among the group, we hope through discussion to arrive at a consensus.
  • Carol Silldorff – Bike Maryland is working on legislation at the state and county level in addition to the following:
    • Bike minded safety programs for youth
    • Teach adult commuter programs
    • Bike Friendly Maryland program for businesses, universities and communities
    • Educational and awareness campaigns (i.e. state bicycle police video, driver registration envelop messaging)
  • Zach Rogers with the Harborcare offered to meet with the Water Taxi work group to discuss their vision and ideas about expanding the service into a commuter system. One of the big challenges economically speaking, has to do with the commuter side of the service competing with the tourist base which poses a significant economic constraint.