By: Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
This time last year, the Transportation Alliance finalized the recommendations resulting from our consultant’s study assessing the feasibility of increasing service on the MARC Penn and Camden lines. We have written extensively in past newsletters about the benefits of expanding MARC service, but at the one-year mark, we revisit the central points of our “Let’s Get to Work” initiative and lay out the 2013 strategy for seeing the recommendations implemented.
One Year Later…
Over the past year, we have met with local economic development officials, business organizations, business, institutional and philanthropic leaders, non-profit organizations, and developers to discuss our MARC initiative. There has been unanimous agreement and support for our recommendations.
Over the past year, MDOT and MTA have assessed the cost of implementing additional MARC service. Discussions and negotiations concerning TOD projects have continued, in spite of the fact that five of the 15 state-designated TOD projects have no weekend transit service, an obvious impediment to creating private sector investment and developer interest in TOD.
With widespread support for more MARC service and the State's own interest in expanding service and facilitating TOD projects, why has little progress been made in actually implementing additional service? The answer is money.
The recommendations for expanding MARC service come at a price tag that is a very small percentage of the overall operating budgets of MTA and MDOT. However, the decision makers with the authority to implement the MARC improvements are preoccupied with a larger issue: the steady depletion of the Transportation Trust Fund over the past decade and the lack of political support for passing a revenue bill that would provide additional and dedicated funding to support expanding and creating the transportation system that is desperately needed to support and sustain true economic vitality throughout the State.
While the Transportation Alliance is keenly aware of the crisis facing the State if funding for transportation continues to go begging in the next General Assembly session, we are also increasingly concerned with the process of deciding which transportation projects should be funded, a process that involves the State as well as local jurisdictions. The current process not only limits the ability to fund expansion of MARC, but in our opinion, also falls short of insuring that transportation projects – both rail and roadway – support job creation and growth, support environmentally sensitive land use planning and principles of smart growth, and provide a catalyst for economic development that connects people to jobs in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. region.
Over the next year, the Transportation Alliance will continue to research and document the unmet demand for expanded MARC service and build a groundswell of support for funding such service. We will also be looking at the procedures that are an impediment to implementing strategies that could address the growing demand for a transportation system that supports jobs, decreases congestion, and catalyzes economic development. Questions that we will be asking include:
We will keep you informed of our progress.