FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8th, 2021
Broad Coalition Celebrates Passage of the Maryland Transit Safety & Investment Act
Group applauds passage of landmark bill to address longtime transit maintenance backlog, improve safety, reliability, equity and access; cautions that it’s a first step in a long process to shore up system
Annapolis, MD – A broad statewide coalition hailed final passage of the Transit Safety & Investment Act (HB 114), a critical measure to improve public transportation across the state. The bi-partisan bill, championed by Sens. Cory McCray and Craig Zucker and Del. Brooke Lierman, mandates minimum funding levels in MTA’s six year capital budget to begin to close the $2 billion gap in the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA’s) maintenance backlog.
The coalition brought together supporters from a wide array of organizations: environmental, transportation, business, labor, disability rights, civil rights, education, workforce development, faith, healthcare, and community.
“For too long, our transportation system has been underinvested, affecting job security and the economy. This ends today, as the Act ensures that Maryland makes investments that meet capital needs so that we may have a safe and reliable transit system,” said Senator Cory McCray, representing Baltimore City’s district 45. “As a native of Baltimore City, in middle school and high school I had to take two buses to and from school. And that’s what this is really all about: making sure our children can get to school, our seniors can pick-up prescriptions, and that those who find public transit a necessity can depend on it.”
The legislation mandates an average minimum amount of $451 million annually for MTA capital needs for the next six years, plus a minimum of $319 million in a seventh year, fiscal year 2029. The mandate ensures that the MTA will get close to the $462 million it needs to chip away at its backlog of deferred state of good repair needs. It will help maintain safety systems, bus shelters, buses, light rail, subway and MARC tracks and switches, and more.
“In infrastructure, you get what you pay for – and for the past six years, the Hogan Administration has refused to adequately fund our transit system. That has meant poor service, broken buses, unsafe rail, and aging infrastructure,” said Delegate Brooke Lierman, representing Baltimore City’s district 46. “By passing the Transit Safety & Investment Act, the General Assembly has declared that Marylanders deserve safe and reliable transit to get them to work, to school, to the doctor and to other destinations. MTA has done the work of identifying the projects it needs to complete to have a robust and on-time system, and with this guaranteed funding over the next several years they will be able to undertake those important projects, helping to transform our region and building more prosperous families.”
“We are finally making sure the money hits the road with this strong investment in our transportation infrastructure. I applaud all those who worked so hard to make this reality.”
– Senator Craig Zucker, representing Montgomery County’s district 14.
Maryland’s metro subway, light rail, bus and commuter rail system is ranked among the worst states in the country for breakdowns and delays and its paratransit service is failing. The new funding will improve service and reliability and ensure the system’s trains, buses and facilities are safe. The bill also passed with an amendment sponsored by Senator Corderman that would require the Maryland Department of Transportation to study the cost and feasibility of expanding MARC service to Western Maryland.
The coalition is calling on Governor Hogan to sign the measure or allow it to pass into law when it reaches his desk. The group also stressed that while this legislation is an important step to improving public transit in Maryland, a lot remains to be done to modernize and expand the system so that it works for everyone.
Advocates from around the state weighed in on the legislation:
“Essential workers who rely on MTA service have made an incalculable contribution to the public’s health and well-being throughout the pandemic; they deserve a first class transit system, not one riddled with delays and long-neglected repairs. The road to recovery is long but, thanks to the passage of the Transit Safety and Investment Act, we have taken an important first step toward building a safe, reliable transit system for our essential workers and riders.”
–Elizabeth Bunn, Maryland State Director, Labor Network for Sustainability
“We are elated that the Maryland General Assembly has taken this crucial first step to improve the public transit system in Maryland. Maryland LCV’s own polling found that 76% of Maryland voters said that increasing the availability and quality of public transportation options should be a priority. It is great to see that legislators listened to their constituents. We can now begin to ensure Marylanders will have access to a reliable and safe transit system over individual transport, which is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland.”
-Kim Coble, Executive Director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters
“The passage of the Transit Safety and Investments Act puts urgent funding for an equitable, safe, and reliable public transportation system for Maryland in the hands of the people and their legislators – just where the future of transit belongs!”
– Samuel Jordan, President, Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
“This funding will help MTA fix their backlog of repairs. We hear complaints from transit riders about breakdowns, no-show buses, and riders in wheelchairs getting passed up by buses because bus wheelchair ramps are broken. It’s my hope that this funding will help improve the quality of service transit riders in Maryland receive for years to come.”
– Brian O’Malley, President & CEO, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
“We are thrilled that the Transit Safety & Investment Act passed the General Assembly. This bill is a priority for the Sierra Club and the Maryland environmental community. All Marylanders deserve a safe and reliable transit system that reduces climate pollution and improves mobility.”
– Josh Tulkin, Director, Maryland Sierra Club