October 28, 2014

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM
Location: Chase Brexton Health Care (1111 N. Charles Street)

Darcy Accardi, Eunice Anderson, Liz Briscoe, Robin Budish, Art Cohen, Rufus Davis, Charlie Duff, Peter Duvall, Kathy Epstein, Fleming El-Amin, Gregory Friedman, Ben Groff, Mark Heishman, Mac McComas, Chris Merriam, Brian O’Malley, Klaus Philipsen, Michael Romeo, Jimmy Rouse, Jill Sorensen, Sandy Sparks, Kristin Speaker, Maris St. Cyr, Karen Stokes, Monica Toole, Michael J. Walk

Moderator: Chris Merriam, Executive Director Bikemore
Chris welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the attendees for coming. He then introduced and turned the meeting over to Jimmy Rouse.

Process and Governance: Jimmy Rouse began his introductory remarks by stating that the Red Line letter of support has brought up the issue of decision making within the Transit Choices group and that from his perspective, the group has two options moving forward: 1) Transit Choices remains a coalition without a board, or 2) Transit Choices becomes a formal organization with a board. Jimmy stated that he highly recommends the group remain a coalition because it will enable us to attract a broader group of people, encourage diverse opinions and allow for cross-pollinating ideas for an overall transit vision. If Transit Choices were to become a formal organization with a board structure, we will just be creating another silo of transportation thought. Further, Jimmy shared that the reason he started Transit Choices was to create a vision for what an ideal transit system would look like in Baltimore, and implement it.

Signatory Letters: Jimmy recognized that one of the difficulties of a coalition with no board or structure for voting, is how the group decides to take a position on a controversial issue such as support of the Red Line. He stated in working towards an overall vision for Baltimore’s transit system, the role of the circulator, streetcars, and how to organize a better bus system will all be controversial issues. But, to be successful Transit Choices cannot just be a forum. We must have some way to take positions on controversial issues. In his opinion, Jimmy feels the best way to proceed is with signatory letters similar to what the group has done with the “Mission Statement” and “Quick Hits” letters. If the group is successful, there will be many signatories endorsing a particular letter, if not the results will be less signatories. Controversy is often a pre-cursor to the path of implementation, people may agree or disagree with an overall vision or goal but the process must be transparent and open. Developing a unified vision for a comprehensive mutli-modal transportation system may be controversial within the group because people may agree or disagree with the overall vision. Therefore,  Jimmy recommended the following plan of action:
1. There will be a full discussion at the larger group meetings for anyone who wants to be given the opportunity to express their views to be heard.

2. An advisory committee comprised of all work group chairs and any individual who has an expertise on the topic/subject will work together to help write signatory letters.

3. Group members can choose not to sign a signatory letter, but still remain  active and engaged within the group.

Discussion Summary:

Meeting attendees were given the opportunity to share their feedback and to provide suggestions, ideas and concerns about process, governance and the Red Line support letter with the group.

  • Charlie Duff stated that because Transit Choices is a “think tank” for transit in Baltimore, he is strongly opposed to an unstructured organization taking a position on controversial or non-controversial issue(s). Further, if the group begins to take positions or appears to take positions on issues we will lose the freedom to speak freely to each other, If decisions need to be made, they should be done fairly and transparently through a governance structure.
  •  Karen Stokes expressed reluctance about Transit Choices becoming another formal organization stating that there are already too many transit non-profits that have been established. She supports Transit Choices continuing as a forum.
  • Klaus Philipsen shared that in order for Transit Choices to be effective, the group needs to take a position on the Red Line. To think the group can be effective and dodge issues is simply not realistic.
  • Art Cohen stated that the strength and uniqueness of Transit Choices is that we are a forum, and just hearing each other whether there is agreement/disagreement is important.
  • Darcy Accardi articulated that the value of Transit Choices is the ability to talk openly and that there is value to providing the city with input about the Red Line.
  • Jimmy Rouse reiterated that Transit Choices will continue to envision what an ideal transit system would look like, advocate for it and implement it. He restated that if the group just wants to sit around and talk about issues, it’s not worth it. In the case of the Red Line, the group will have to take a position if we are to remain effective.
  • Klaus Philipsen reminded the group that Jimmy Rouse put a position on the table for Transit Choices to continue as a coalition and resolution letters should be used as needed.

Fundraising: Jimmy Rouse reported that Transit Choices is requesting help with writing grants or getting recommendations for funders. Any group member interested in providing assistance should contact Robin Budish.

Setting an Agenda for 2015:

  • Each work group will focus on the long term vision for an effective, comprehensive multi-modal transportation system.
  • There will be two presentations at the January 2015 Transit Choices meeting:
    1. Chris Merriam, Bikemore (Executive Director) – Bikes and Bike Share
    2. Michael J. Walk, MTA (Director of Service Development) – Cost of procedures to improve Bus Service

Other Business:

  • There will be two presentations at the December 4, 2014 Transit Choices Meeting
    1. Chuck Lattuca, BCDOT (Deputy Director) – “The Complete Streets Annual Report & Indexing the costs of various Transit Related Projects”
    2.  Klaus Philipsen, ArchPlan – “Water Transportation Service”