Let’s face it: Maryland suffers from some of the worst traffic in the nation. Each year, traffic-clogged roads and highways rob Marylanders of millions of hours of precious time they could otherwise be spending with their families, at work or at school, or enjoying other activities. Pollution from the vehicles clogging the Baltimore and Capital Beltways each day are contaminating the air we breathe and the water we drink. This must change. We cannot successfully step into the 21st century and compete in today’s economy unless we commit to developing a public transit system that serves the entire state.
Maryland needs a state-wide, integrated transportation plan. Developing a comprehensive plan that updates the existing systems and uses new ideas to expand the public transit options across the state would revolutionize Maryland and make it a more desirable place to live, work, and visit. As the founding Chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and with my service to the Greater Baltimore Committee, I have firsthand experience in improving and expanding transportation options for citizens and businesses. I know that, if we want to live in a vibrant state with a flourishing economy and opportunity for everyone, we must be willing to invest in transportation to reap long-term benefits rather than focusing on short-term returns.
One of the biggest flaws with the current transportation system in Maryland is that, while it has useful singular lines or roads, it is not integrated. Transportation planners have not accounted for how each new piece fits with the existing system. A lack of integration is a symptom of a failure to develop a hearty, statewide plan.
Maryland needs a stronger connection between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Each of these cities is a crucial economic and cultural engine for Maryland. the economic and cultural engines of the state. In order for these two cities to grow and create one of the most robust regional economies in the world, Marylanders must have additional options to move between the two cities quickly and reliably. As Governor, I will push to increase the number of trains moving between the two cities on MARC lines and to add additional rush hour non-stop service between Penn Station and Union Station. Further, I will work with other jurisdictions to integrate Baltimore and Washington D.C.’s systems so that they use the same payment technology to provide a more fluid service to Marylanders.
Given the strong connection our state has to our nation’s capital, including the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who live and work in the greater D.C. region, Maryland has a significant stake in seeing that Washington, D.C.’s public transit system is first-rate. I will oversee the completion of the Purple Line and maximize the usefulness of the line to Marylanders by ensuring that it is fully integrated with current transportation infrastructure. I will also work to find a dedicated source of funding for the D.C. Metro. Marylanders take about 430,000 trips on WMATA transit infrastructure each day, and the state has a significant interest in seeing that the Metro is operating at an optimal level.
The city of Baltimore also needs a Governor who will prioritize investments in its transportation infrastructure. Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line derailed the development of a comprehensive rail system in the city. The Red Line would have provided a much-needed East-West rail, but it also would have connected the Light Rail to the Baltimore Metro and created a spine upon which the city could build additional rails and spurs. One of my top transportation priorities will be resurrecting what the Red Line would have done. I will also work to integrate the existing transportation options, especially the bus lines, to make sure they are complementing each other rather than duplicating each other.
Maryland’s more rural areas, just like the central corridor, need additional investments in transportation infrastructure. As Governor, I will prioritize improving the interstate system around the cities and towns on the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland. One of my first actions as Governor will be to order an assessment of the bridges and tunnels across the state to prioritize preventative maintenance. I will also convene local leaders to examine ways in which we can expand public transit options. Those who live in Easton or Salisbury should have options for getting to work other than driving.
Unlike Governor Hogan, when I am Governor, I will value transit accountability in all of its forms. I will happily and consistently adhere to and exceed the guidelines set forth in the Transportation Scoring Bill. I will work to install a Maryland Transit Administration oversight board to provide accountability to the selection of appropriate projects and ensure that the implementation is efficient and smooth. I will, through my Transportation Secretary, make public data on the reliability, speed, and efficiency of our transportation systems. We should not hide from the results. We should study them and devise steps to make the systems more efficient and attractive to Maryland’s citizens.
We know what needs to be done. We cannot squander another four years without a statewide plan, strong performance metrics, or accountability. As Governor, I will bring to the task of transforming Maryland’s neglected transportation needs the vision, the energy, and the commitment to create the type of system upon which our state’s future strength and prosperity depend.