Over the past few months, the Maryland Department of Transportation has garnered plenty of criticism for the lack of funding it’s given the Maryland Transit Administration in this year’s annual budget. State and local lawmakers and transportation advocacy groups have been particularly vocal about the matter, but much of Maryland’s business community isn’t happy with the state’s current level of transit spending, either.
At the end of October, the Baltimore Business Mobility Roundtable, a newly-formed group comprised of the Baltimore area’s biggest businesses, banks, developers, and various other movers and shakers sent a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan asking him to increase the MTA’s funding. They want more money for both maintenance and project planning in the Consolidated Transit Plan’s (CTP) final draft this January.
The letter, whose signatories include executives from companies like T. Rowe Price, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Morgan Stanley, and the Bozzuto Group, criticizes the CTP for not meeting the funding level identified in the MTA’s Capital Needs Inventory earlier this year to keep the MTA’s bus and rail system in a “state of good repair.”
It also asks Hogan and Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn to “consider allocating planning and development funds for enhanced access” to major Baltimore employment centers like Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Port Covington, a major mixed-use development currently under construction in South Baltimore “and for the redevelopment of Penn Station.”
Hogan spokesperson Mike Ricci said that “no governor in the history of the state has invested more [in transit]” in a statement to the Baltimore Sun responding to the letters sent by the Mobility Roundtable, as well as another influential local consortium called the Greater Baltimore Committee. Rahn also responded to the letters, telling the Sun that “while transit only accounts for 8.5% of commuters, it takes up 42% of our budget.”
In turn, Joe McAndrew, the Director of Transportation Policy for another one of the Mobility Roundtable members who signed on to the letter, the Greater Washington Partnership, thanked Hogan for his existing support of transit but reiterated the businesses’ concern about his administration’s level of funding for it, especially in the Baltimore region.
“We appreciate the Governor’s support of transit at a statewide level,” McAndrew said. “We’re concerned though that for Baltimore’s transit system, the transit system provided by the MTA, its existing system is not receiving adequate investment or attention, both to maintain it and grow it…..Baltimore has the longest transit commutes of any Northeast regional peer. That comes with a cost to employers to be able to access a labor pool that’s reliant on transit, as well as to residents.”
You can read the full text of the letter below.
October 28, 2019
The Honorable Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. Governor State of Maryland 100 State Circle Annapolis, MD 21404
Dear Governor Hogan,
This summer, we formed the Baltimore Business Mobility Roundtable to identify and advocate for the transportation priorities necessary to support and advance our growing regional economy. Central to our collective effort is the strong belief that Maryland businesses and residents should have an adequate multimodal transportation network that moves goods and people efficiently and provides access to jobs, healthcare, and education. Unfortunately, the inadequacy of the current transportation network is hindering workforce participation and economic potential in our region.
In our August 18 letter, we outlined the priorities that are essential to building and maintaining a functional and efficient transportation network in the Greater Baltimore region. As business leaders, we appreciate the difficult fiscal choices you must make as Governor to distribute funding to the projects of highest need and recognize that needs far outweigh available resources. However, we urge you to re-examine the draft FY2020-2025 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) released by the Maryland Department of Transportation to identify solutions to eliminate the capital funding cuts to the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).
The draft CTP fails to meet the funding level identified in the Capital Needs Inventory (CNI) of MTA assets that is necessary to reduce the multibillion dollar backlog needed to maintain the existing system in a state of good repair. A month-long shutdown of the Baltimore metro system last August is a stark reminder of the importance of adequate system maintenance and preservation. Furthermore, the proposed CTP does not provide funding to improve access to key employment centers such as Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and Port Covington nor does it support key projects of regional impact such as the redevelopment of Penn Station.
The Baltimore business community respectfully requests your leadership in directing MDOT to increase funding for MTA—the system upon which our workforce relies—in the final FY2020- 2025 CTP that is transmitted to the legislature in 2020. We also request that you consider allocating planning and development funds for enhanced access to key employment centers including those referenced above and for the redevelopment of Penn Station.
We are pleased to see positive development on a project of significant priority to the region and acknowledge and appreciate the collaborative and persistent advocacy efforts that you and Maryland’s congressional delegation demonstrated to secure the $125 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to expand the Howard Street Tunnel. This investment will remove a restrictive bottleneck and enhance freight capacity at the Port of Baltimore, resulting in significant economic impact to the region and state. We urge you to work with CSX to identify the funding needed to match this federal grant and to accept the funds before the October 31 deadline.
Along with our thousands of employees, we are working to create a stronger Maryland, but we cannot do it alone. Adequate investments in our transportation system today will create a more competitive economy for decades to come. A well-functioning transportation system can better connect Maryland residents to more opportunities, but it starts with adequate funding.
Thomas S. Bozzuto Calvin G. Butler, Jr. Albert R. “Skip” Counselman Chairman Interim CEO Chairman & CEO The Bozzuto Group, Inc. Exelon Utilities RCM&D
CEO Baltimore Gas and Electric, an Exelon Company
Michael R. Crase Ronald J. Daniels Donald C. Fry Vice President President President & CEO Gilbane Johns Hopkins University Greater Baltimore Committee
Tom Geddes Joseph Haskins Jon Laria CEO Chairman, President & CEO Managing Partner, Baltimore Plank Industries The Harbor Bank of Maryland Ballard Spahr LLP
Jason S. Miller Brian O’Malley Caroline A. Paff CEO President & CEO Managing Member Greater Washington Partnership Central Maryland VI Development, LLC
Brian Pieninck Mary Ann Scully Jim Shea President & CEO Chairman & CEO Chairman Emeritus CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Howard Bank Venable LLP
Gina Stewart Bill Stromberg Aaron Tomarchio Executive Director President & CEO Senior Vice President, The BWI Business Partnership T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. Administration & Corporate
Affairs Tradepoint Atlantic
Lori A. Villegas Marc Weller Michele L. Whelley Senior Vice President, Founding Partner President & CEO Investments, Wealth Advisor Weller Development Economic Alliance of Morgan Stanley Wealth Greater Baltimore Management
CC: The Honorable Calvin Ball
The Honorable Barry Glassman The Honorable John A. Olszewski The Honorable Steuart Pittman The Honorable Bernard C. “Jack” Young The Honorable Pete Rahn, Secretary of Transportation, Maryland