November 13, 2013


Darcy Accardi, Demetria Barrett, Robin Budish, Scott Burkholder, Art Cohen, Amber Collins, Kelly Cross, Terry Cummings, Lindsey Davis, Peter Duvall, Liz Gordon, Kathy Epstein, Alan Fish, Mel Freeman, Tony Green, Adam Gross, Bob Hellauer, Todd Lang, Mac McComas, Chris Merriam, Robert Milner, Brian O’Malley, Payal Patnaik, Klaus Philipsen, Wally Pinkard, Jeremy Pomp, Barry Robinson, Jimmy Rouse, Greg Smith, Jill Sorensen, Sandy Sparks, Maris St Cyr, Michael Walk, Michele Whelley

Moderator: Adam Gross, Principal with Ayers Saint Gross

Adam welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming.
He then introduced and turned the meeting over to guest speaker, Matt Gallagher.

Presentation: Matt Gallagher, Chair of the Local and Regional Transportation Funding Task Force

  • The Local and Regional Transportation Funding Task Force is comprised of state and local governments and charged with studying, evaluating and making recommendations on:
    • the feasibility of regional transit financing, and,
    • options available for the purpose of raising additional funds to support regional and local transportation system needs throughout the State.
  • The Task Force shall report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before December 15, 2013.
  • Specifically, the Task Force is looking at four (4) revenue options for local governments to raise additional funds for Transportation projects:
    1. Raising the cap on local piggyback income tax above the present 3.2%
    2. Transfer tax – add a small %
    3. Adding local vehicle registration fees
    4. Facilitating local value-capture techniques and strategies
  • The city of Baltimore is presently maxed out at the 3.2% piggyback income tax. Raising property tax is an infeasible option because city residents presently pay 2 x what other jurisdictions pay. Many of the city’s residents are poor and the income average is low compared to other jurisdictions. Thus, the higher property tax.
  • The water system in Baltimore is run as a non-profit. It’s an asset that the City has that it does not leverage.
  • Baltimore is blessed to have a concentration of non-profit organizations, however it is a brutal fiscal City management issue because non-profits are not on the tax roll. One thoughtful and creative approach to address this issue is to ask the large non-profits to take control of vacant properties within “x” blocks of the organization in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood rather than ask just for a defined monetary contribution.
  • Transportation is critical to the quality of life in Baltimore, and we need to figure out sensible approaches to fund transportation projects.

Discussion Points:

  • Jimmy Rouse raised the question how does the Task Force define the “region”? Matt Gallagher responded that the regions must self-identify according to projects being considered for funding.
  • Art Cohen asked about the possibility of charging a commuter tax to generate funding, however, Matt Gallagher did not see any chance of that happening. It would be a disincentive to job creation in the city. Baltimore benefits in the receipt of state funding through compensation of disparity considerations in the state budgeting process. Baltimore also has a large collection of cultural institutions which receive direct state funding.
  • Chris Merriam suggested eliminating privately run college and university shuttles by integrating that service with the MTA and the Circulator. The revenue savings could be put into operating funds.

Work Group Presentations: “Refined Quick Hits” List

  • Kelly Cross – “Rail Transit” 
  • Wally Pinkard – “Biking”
  • Greg Smith – “Buses” 
  • Demetria Barrett – “Water Taxi”
  • Mac McComas – “Pedestrian Facilities”

Work Group Presentation Discussion Points:

  • Jimmy Rouse prefaced the Work Group presentations by stating the refined “quick hits” lists will be consolidated into one list and presented to cityDOT, MDOT, MTA and Khalil Zaied (Mayor’s Office) for discussion and implementation. We will also be defining a vision and guiding principles at the December meeting which will be included in the overall presentation.
  • Rail Transit
    • Michael Walk, on behalf of Billy Hwang and Frank Murphy reported that the City is actively looking at signal prioritization for light rail.
  • Biking
    • Wally Pinkard stated that most of the Biking refined “quick hits” came from the Bikemore letter to the Department of Transportation
    • Klaus Philipsen: there should be a best practice award or incentive for businesses that have high bike users
    • Adam Gross: Washington, DC has a hugely robust bike share program
    • Barry Robinson: the City is finalizing the formal contract with Alta to manage the bike share program which is set to launch in mid-May 2014 with 25 tentative locations. The City is also looking at opportunities for a title sponsor and other partnerships.
  • Buses
    • Mel Freeman: the subject of bus shelters needs to be addressed because transportation needs to protect the rider and improve the rider experience.
    • Michele Whelley: the bus shelter issue should be discussed within MTA – it’s a very heavy lift and political.
    • Klaus Philipsen: all transit systems and providers should be integrated with a universal ticket like the “charm card” and have all transit providers to participate.
    • Mike Talbot (Loyola) is working on a mobile transit application for the city.

Other Business:

  • A recommendation was made to create a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) work group. It was agreed that Transit Choices will coordinate efforts with Brian O’Malley (Central Maryland Transportation Alliance) on their TOD initiative.
  • Adam Gross announced that the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) would be holding their annual Transportation Summit on November 18, 2013