May 27, 2015

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM
Location: Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral Street)

Eunice Anderson, Darcy Accardi, Pat Bennett, David Bouchard, Liz Briscoe, Robin Budish, Art Cohen, Rufus Davis, Ryan Dorsey, Peter Duvall,  George Frazier, Gregory Friedman, Jonathan Genn, Jennifer Goold. Richard Hall, Mark Heishman, Alex Hutchinson, Todd Lang, Phil LaCombe, Jeff LaNoue, Henriette Leanos, . Jim Leanos, Brooke Lierman, Joe Nathanson, Brian O’Malley, Klaus Philipsen, Jasmine Bazinet-Phillips, Jim Ports, Pete Powell, Michael Romeo, Kevin Reigrut, Jimmy Rouse, Sameer Sidh, Sandy Sparks, Kristin Speaker

Moderator: Alex Hutchinson, Economic Development Officer at the Baltimore Development Corporation. Alex welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. He then introduced the first guest speaker.

Speaker: Brooke Lierman, Delegate 46th Legislative District
Presentation: “Challenges and Opportunities in Baltimore Transit”

Presentation highlights: Public Transit in Baltimore: To Be or Not to Be? Why MTA needs a Board of Directors

1. MTA Today

  • Riders use MTA services to access jobs, education, schooling, and medical care.
  • MTA bus service is the 8th largest in the country and last year almost 114,000,000 riders used the MTA.
  • MTA operates core transit services (bus, light rail and Metro) in the greater Baltimore area, and commuter services via MARC and commuter bus around the state.
  • Unfortunately, from audits, studies, and personal anecdotes, we know that MTA service today is unreliable, unsanitary, inefficient, and inadequate and needs to be reformed.
  • MTA is Baltimore’s transit.  Baltimore public transit will only be as strong as MTA is …

2. MTA Problems – Service

  • Buses run off schedule
  •  Bus “bunching”
  • Overcrowding of cars and buses
  • Unsanitary conditions of transit and stops
  • Inadequate policing and lack of safety


  • MTA is unresponsive to rider feedback and does not sufficiently respond to complaints
  • Poor marketing, little ability to attract new riders or choice-riders
  • Not nimble enough – cannot make changes in a timely and efficient manner
  •  Not local enough – routes too long because service area so large
  • School Bus Substitute


  • No effective long-term planning for the entire system to ensure that it is meeting the needs of businesses and workers
  • Anne Arundel Mills
  • Fort Meade
  • BWI Business District
  • Accounting Problems & Internal Oversight Issues
  • Disability Issues

3.  One Solution: Better Governance & Oversight & Stronger
Advocacy  – HB 546

  • Two problems conquered with one bill:
    – Better governance and more accountability
    – Stronger voices advocating for limited transportation dollars at the
    state level
  • Members of the Board
    – Mayor
    – County Executive (Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties)
    – Representative from county government served by commuter services
    – LOTS representative
    – Baltimore City bus or MARC train user
    – County resident who uses services
    – Disabled individual or MDLC Rep
    – GBC/BDC or CMTA Rep
    –  Transit Union rep

4. Board Authority

  • Engage in specified strategic planning
  • Approval authority over MTA’s annual operating plan for core services
  • Solicit consumer input and evaluate transit system priorities and resource allocation
  • Review MTA policies and procedures when called into question by complaints
  • Convene subcommittees to gather information and study  some topics, i.e. compensation
  • Oversee CACs
  • Adopt policies that encourage MTA to promote public safety, transparency, accountability, customer service, regular communication with the public, and prudent financial decision-making.

5. HB 546 didn’t pass – now what?

  • Work Group with Del. Pam Beidle, chair of Transportation Subcommittee of the Environment & Transportation Committee (Anne Arundel County)
  • Budget Language: reporting is required
  • MTA Survey
  • DOT and MTA Meetings

6. Budget Language – FY16

  • Transit Performance:  The committees are concerned about the performance measures reported by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) with the fiscal 2016 budget that show a decline in ridership in fiscal 2014, core bus on-time performance not meeting the established goal for the past three years, and farebox recovery rates below the level mandated in State law.  By October 1, 2015, MTA should post on its website a transit performance improvement plan indicating how these issues are to be remedied.  Further, MTA should post on its website quarterly updates beginning December 1, 2015 indicating the specific actions taken and progress made in implementing the improvement plan.
  • Bus Real Time Information System:  The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) has just started a beta test of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking function for its bus fleet that allows customers to obtain real-time arrival information at a specific bus stop via the MTA website.  The committees request that MTA submit a report evaluating the beta test and indicating any changes or improvements that are to be made as a result of the beta test.
  • Information Request Author Due Date: Report evaluating the beta test of the bus real-time tracking system  – Maryland Transit Administration – December 1, 2015

7. What’s Next? Contact:

Delegate Brooke Lierman (D-46)

Additional comments:
– A recent article in the New York Times titled “Transportation Emerges as
Crucial to Escaping Poverty”, reported that commuting time has emerged as
the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The relationship
between transportation and social mobility is stronger than that between
mobility and several other factors. Here is the link to the complete article:
– Transit issues, bus service in particular affects all parts of our city and state.
– Delegate Lierman is a participant on the Environment and Transportation
sub-committee serving with Delegate Beidle, district 32.
– The MTA functions as our school buses – a huge challenge is how to get our
kids to school on time.
– Connecting job centers to population centers is essential, with mass transit
playing a key role.
– MTA oversight boards exist elsewhere in the country. The board of directors
provide two key functions 1) accountability and 2) champions for the system.
HB 546 addresses these issues.
– Delegate Lierman will hold a series of meetings with Paul Comfort (MTA
Administrator), and MDOT over the next year to implement changes in the
bus system. If significant changes are not implemented, Delegate Lierman
will reintroduce HB 546.

Speaker: Todd Lang Director, Transportation Planning with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council
Presentation: “US DOT Ladders of Opportunity Initiative and other Federal Discretionary Funding Opportunities”

Presentation Highlights:  FTA Funding Programs under MAP-21

1. Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Funding

  • Total FTA Funding $10,607,393,774
  • Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Program – $4,833,448,449
  • Section 5337 State of Good Repair –

2. Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Funding

  • Section 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities Formula – $427,800,000
  • Section 5310 Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities $257,464,692
  •  Section 5303 Metropolitan Transportation Planning Program – $106,570,979

3. FTA Program Funds – Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Funding

  • Indian Reservations Transit – $30,055,813
  •  Statewide Planning – $22,910,721
  • Appalachian Transit – $20,000,000
  • Rural Transit (RTAP) – $10,614,343
  • TOD Discretionary Pilot – $10,000,000
  • Technical Assistance – $5,000,000

4. FTA 5307 Eligibility – FTA Circular 9030.1E

  • Planning Projects – planning, engineering, design and evaluation of public transportation
  • Capital Projects – bus and bus-related activities, fixed guideway systems
  • Associated Transit Improvements – “designed to enhance service or use and are  physically or functionally related to facilities”
  • ADA – Equipment, Facilities, Vehicles
  • Extended Warranty

5. FTA 5307 Eligibility – FTA Circular 9030.1E

1. Associated Capital Maintenance
2. Preventative Maintenance
3. Transit-Oriented Development
4. Joint Development
5. Technology Introduction
6. Clean Air Act Projects
7. Capital Cost of Contracting

6. Discretionary Grants

  • Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) – $600,000,000
  • Fort Meade Multimodal Accessibility Project ($10,000,000)
  • Hanover Street Bridge Plan ($1,100,000)
  • Ladders of Opportunity – $100,000,000
  • TOD Development Planning – $10,000,000
  • Passenger Ferry Grant – $123,500,000
  • Circulator Harbor Connector ($854,130)

7. Contact:

Todd Lang
Director of Transportation Planning
Baltimore Metropolitan Council
The Offices at McHenry Row
1500 Whetstone Way, Suite 300
Baltimore, MD 21230
Direct Line: 410-732-9566

Additional comments:
– The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) is the Metropolitan
Planning Organization (MPO) for the Baltimore region. As an MPO, the
BRTB is directly responsible for making sure that any money spent on
existing and future transportation projects and programs is based on a
continuing, cooperative and comprehensive (3-C) planning process. All
transportation projects and programs that receive federal funding in our
region go through this planning process.
– U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced the availability
of approximately $100 million in competitive grant funds through the
Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new Ladders of Opportunity
Initiative. The funds may be used to modernize and expand transit bus
service specifically for the purpose of connecting disadvantaged and
low-income individuals, veterans, seniors, youths, and others with local
workforce training, employment centers, health care, and other vital

Discussion Summary:
Meeting attendees were given the opportunity at the conclusion of both presentations, to share their feedback and to provide suggestions, ideas and concerns with the guest speakers. Electronic copies of both PowerPoint presentations will be made available to the full Transit Choices group.

Jimmy Rouse: thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and for their valued participation. He then acknowledged guest speakers, Brooke Lierman and Todd Lang for their interesting and informative presentations, Pete Powell from the Clayton Baker Trust foundation for their generous support in the amount of a $10,000 grant, and MDOT representatives, Jim Ports and Kevin Reigrut for their support and attending the meeting.

He also provided an update on his May 7, 2015 meeting with MDOT Secretary Peter Rahn, with whom he was very impressed. Jimmy on behalf of Transit Choices, discussed the following with Secretary Rahn:

1. Assistance with the implementation of the “Quick Hits”
2. A State Commission to complete a new vision for multimodal,
comprehensive transit connectivity in the Baltimore region that is both
ambitious and feasible. The last “Regional Rail Study” was completed in
2002. Since that time, there has been no updated information.

Jimmy concluded his remarks by reiterating that Transit Choices provides an educational forum of discussion for transit, and the importance of turning the discussion into action. For inner city residents, we must connect them to jobs and help lift them out of poverty. It is essential that we create a really effective transit system, building upon what we already have on the ground.

On May 27, 2015, Jimmy and Klaus Philipsen will appear on Midday with Dan Rodricks l WYPR to discuss “Progress on Transit?” – Jimmy also mentioned that he wrote the following Op-Ed piece on the relationship between poor transit and poverty that was published in the Baltimore Sun on May 12, 2015:

Other Business:
Art Cohen called attention to the two in-depth articles in the Baltimore Sun on March 17 and March 22 this year, which were very critical of the current performance and diminishing ridership of the MTA bus system in Baltimore City.  He suggested that given its mission to improve public transportation, it would be fitting for Transit Choices as a whole to focus some attention on getting an excellent and revamped public transportation system for the people of inner city West and East Baltimore, only 1 out of 3 of whom own an automobile.  These city residents need and deserve such a system.  It’s about getting to jobs, but it’s also about much more than that: It’s about people being able to get around and use and enjoy their whole city in the many things it has to offer.