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 fully step into the 21st century and compete in today’s economy unless we commit to developing a statewide first-class public transit system.
The cities and states across the country that are investing strategically in public transit are successfully driving economic growth, improving the quality of life, and protecting the environment. Unfortunately, Maryland, often labeled a beacon of progressive values and forward-thinking ideas, has fallen behind. Maryland has historically been a transit hub with a vibrant port and a beneficial location on the northeast corridor. Yet, under the Hogan Administration, there is a grim sense of powerlessness and inevitability with respect to the state’s congestion problem. Their actions in the field of transportation are characterized by a lack of planning, mistakes, and an absence of imagination. These failures of omission and commission have left our transportation systems in dire need of investment and new leadership.
Maryland needs a state-wide, integrated transit plan. Developing a comprehensive plan that updates the existing systems and utilizes new ideas to expand the public transit options across the state would revolutionize Maryland and make it an even more desirable place to live, work, and visit. As former Chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and with my service to Greater Baltimore Committee Board of Directors, 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. As Governor, I will:
- Implement a state-wide transportation vision that accounts for how each piece fits together into a larger and more-integrated transportation system.
- Undo Governor Hogan’s unforgivable and inexplicable decision to cancel the Red Line.
- Oversee the completion of the Purple Line and look for ways to improve the service so it reaches its full potential.
- Integrate Baltimore and Washington, D.C.’s transit systems so they use the same payment technology to provide a more fluid service to Marylanders.
- Invest in transportation infrastructure in Western Maryland, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore that combats congestion and improves transit outcomes.
- Push for clear accountability standards, including adhering to the Transportation Scoring Bill, instituting a board that oversees MTA, and making ridership data available for all of Maryland’s public transportation systems.
My record in both business and civic affairs is one of leading large organizations to accomplish big things. As Chair of Venable, I grew the law firm by 1000% by developing a plan, outlining proper metrics, and executing. As Chair of the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland, I led an organization with a budget of $5.4 billion, 12 institutions, 160,000 students, and 40,000 employees to improve the quality of and access to higher education in Maryland. As the inaugural Chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, I advocated for improved transit outcomes throughout the greater Baltimore region. I uniquely have the experience and leadership skills to implement the progressive policies we know will move Maryland forward.
The Hogan Administration’s Transit Failures
Governor Hogan has seriously shortchanged public transit infrastructure in Maryland. He and his administration have an outdated view of transit infrastructure, which is evident both through their actions and words. The people of Maryland are paying a steep price for the Hogan Administration’s exceedingly bad choices.
Governor Hogan has foiled transformative opportunities to increase interconnectivity within our cities and across our state. He began his tenure in the most enviable of positions. Baltimore was poised to finally realize the benefits of decades of planning and advocacy with the construction of the Red Line, and the Washington, D.C. area was on its way to beginning construction on the Purple Line. Despite finding himself in such an attractive position, he pulled hundreds of millions of dollars out of public transportation projects and put them into road widenings and construction.1 He and his Secretary of Transportation, Pete Rahn, explicitly acknowledge that they do not see the value that public transit infrastructure has in spurring economic development.2 They do not understand that the economic attractiveness of our state is inextricably linked to transportation. Our traffic congestion is a significant barrier to attracting businesses. Look no further than Amazon’s guidelines for a second North American headquarters. Access to mass transit is listed as one of the most important qualities of a potential location.3 In short, Larry Hogan has become the anti-public transit governor.
Most of Governor Hogan’s antipathy towards public transit has targeted Baltimore City. At the beginning of his first term, his administration developed an infrastructure plan – one that focused completely on roads and bridges and not public transit – and quite literally eliminated Baltimore City from the map that laid out future infrastructure investments.4 Governor Hogan’s staff tried to spin the mess by claiming that the map did not represent Governor Hogan’s feelings towards the city of Baltimore. As the Governor’s subsequent actions confirmed, however, the map, not the spin, reflected the Governor’s true intentions.
The single most substantive transportation policy that Governor Hogan has taken is cancelling the Red Line. This mean spirited and painfully political action damaged Baltimore’s long-term transit prospects while, at the same time, costing the state close to one billion dollars in federal funds.5 He then took the remaining state money and put it into road construction projects outside of the city limits and into his politically-favored jurisdictions.
Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line is inexcusable for two reasons. First, many of the communities in West Baltimore and East Baltimore that would have been served by such a line badly need the investment. They need a transit lifeline. They need access to jobs that pay well, grocery stores with healthy food options, doctors, and schools. The Red Line would have increased economic and social opportunity in Baltimore for tens of thousands of people. Sound transportation policy is one of the surest and most efficient ways to combat economic inequality. Second, the Red Line was an integral part of a larger plan for public transit in Baltimore. It would have connected the Baltimore Metro with the Light Rail, and it would have served as a spine upon which the city and state could build additional rails. The Red Line was a key step to creating a modern transportation system in Baltimore. Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line stopped these much-needed developments which would have greatly benefitted both Baltimore and the state as a whole.
Baltimore’s consolation prize after Governor Hogan cancelled the Red Line was BaltimoreLink. To start, a revamping of Baltimore’s bus system was supposed to happen in addition to, not in lieu of, the construction of the Red Line. Larry Hogan did Baltimore no favor by proceeding with BaltimoreLink as a claimed “alternative.” Further, BaltimoreLink is not any more effective than the previous version of the bus system. A study by the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance found that the BaltimoreLink system “does not deliver on MTA’s promises of ‘transformative’ change.” Access to jobs for the average resident of the region did not increase significantly and was worse on weekends.6 There are limited, if any, improvements in access to Baltimore City Schools and grocery stores that sell healthy food options. The city of Baltimore lost a transformative opportunity and was given a revamped bus system that simply does not improve transit outcomes.
The Governor’s record in other jurisdictions in the state is no better. In Prince George’s and Montgomery County, Governor Hogan severely threatened the Purple Line’s prospects when he pulled hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding.7 On the campaign trail and in his first months in office, Hogan repeatedly questioned whether the Purple Line was necessary and criticized the previous administration for the cost.8 Because of the cuts in state funding, the Purple Line is proceeding with a less robust and less competitive service.9 When construction began, Transportation Secretary said that he believes the Purple Line will be Governor Hogan’s “legacy” to Maryland.10 Yes, Governor Hogan’s legacy will be cancelling or minimizing potential returns from transformative public transit projects that were planned and designed prior to his administration.
The Hogan Administration took the state money that would have been allocated to the Red Line and Purple Line, and additional money from the Transportation Trust Fund, and put it into widening roads. While we need to continually maintain our highways and bridges so they are safe and useful, widening roads has been proven to be unsound transportation policy. One of the roads that Governor Hogan has widened, Rt. 404 on the Eastern Shore, actually takes people out of Maryland and into Delaware to spend money outside of the state. Widening road induces demand, attracting more cars and leading to the same result – bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour. This generated traffic renders the road widening projects relatively useless in the long-term.
Governor Hogan’s announcement that he will spend $9 billion dollars widening 495, I-270, and the Baltimore Washington Parkway was a press release, not a transportation plan.11 He has no actual plan for any of these projects. Land has not been acquired; engineering and environmental studies have not been conducted; funds have neither been identified nor allocated. The Governor’s announcement is a preelection pipe dream designed to mislead voters into thinking that congestion relief is on the way. His past decisions have proven that these promises will go unfulfilled.
Governor Hogan’s decision to veto the transportation scoring bill is another example of his disdain for public transit. The transportation scoring bill would have ranked the pending transportation projects in the state and required an explanation if a project receives state funding over one that is ranked higher. This bill would have guided decision making to assure that limited funds are used efficiently and that there is a process to impose accountability for meeting the state’s transportation needs. The Governor and his Transportation Secretary should, at a minimum, be required to explain why they propose to fund a lower-ranked project over a higher-ranked one. That is altogether reasonable. In criticizing the bill, Governor Hogan snidely, yet revealingly, characterized it as the “Road Kill Bill.”12 Governor Hogan thus recognizes that prioritizing the best and most effective projects would put public transit infrastructure in front of road construction projects. He knows that in many cases throwing more dollars into roads at the expense of public transit is poor transit policy, but he insists on being at liberty to do so anyway. Governor Hogan rejected this sound bill because he did not want any checks on his allocation of transportation funds.
Governor Hogan is seemingly allergic to accountability. In addition to refusing to comply with the scoring bill, he also vetoed in 2016 the Maryland Transit Administration Oversight and Planning Bill, which would have created an oversight board that consisted of members representing the ridership of the MTA.13 The MTA is one of the only major transportation systems in the United States without an oversight board, yet Governor Hogan vetoed it, calling it a “sophomoric attack on sound transportation policy.”14 Again, what drove Governor Hogan’s decision was his unwillingness to be accountable for his decisions. His opposition to the oversight bill is also in line with his lack of regard for the transportation interests of those in the Greater Baltimore area. By vetoing the oversight bill, Governor Hogan achieved his objective of denying the bulk of MTA’s ridership any opportunity for review, comment, or input. Jurisdictions in which the Governor polls better receive better treatment. Governor Hogan’s rank political maneuvering does not produce thoughtful transportation policy.
A Fully-Integrated Statewide Plan for Transportation
Maryland has the opportunity to create a robust transportation system that operates quickly, reliably, and efficiently. We can create a statewide transit system that competes with the best in the world – providing Marylanders across the state with access to jobs and schools and an improved quality of life. To do that, we must work towards building a plan, developing clean and attainable goals, and executing. There is no silver bullet when it comes to transportation policy. We need to be willing to invest in the future of our state and develop the infrastructure, brick by brick. We need a Governor who has the vision to create a robust transit system using deliberate and time-tested strategies. We need a Governor who values longterm investments in our future rather than short-term rewards. We need a Governor who has the skills and experience to bring people together and get things done.
I have a lifetime of experience in successfully leading complex organizations and attaining tangible results. I served for ten years as the inaugural chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, where I advocated for improved public transit options throughout the state. For 22 years, I was Chair of Venable LLP, where I grew the firm into the largest law firm in Maryland, creating thousands of jobs in the process. As Chair of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland System, I oversaw a budget of $5.4 billion and 12 universities, 160,000 students, and 40,000 employees, and improved our higher education system by expanding access and improving quality. The formula for success in all of these endeavors was simple. I developed a plan, set clear goals, outlined measurable objectives, and set the plan in motion. I recruited, hired, and trained competent and motivated individuals, and held them accountable to their performance objectives. As Governor, I will apply this formula to fix our urgent transportation problems.
Transit Between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
One of Maryland’s most pressing transportation needs is a faster and more reliable connection between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The economies of each of these two cities drive Maryland, and the cultures of each city enrich the lives of citizens across the state. With the MARC lines offering up to 40,000 daily rides between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and the Amtrak regional trains passing through the corridor, central Maryland is bustling with activity.15 Marylanders work in Washington, D.C., and Washington, D.C. residents work in Maryland. However, in order for these two cities to grow and create one of the most robust regional economies in the world, we must create a stronger transit connection.
Currently, Marylanders have two options to travel between the D.C. region and Baltimore. One option is driving. In 2016, INRIX, a transportation research and consulting firm, studied traffic congestion in cities throughout the world. Of the 240 cities INRIX studied in the United States, Washington D.C. suffers from the 6th worst congestion and Baltimore suffers from the 33rd worst congestion.16 Marylanders often spend 90 or more minutes commuting via car. The other option that Marylanders have is public transit. Unfortunately, for those who live in the D.C. or Baltimore area, a trip on the MARC takes about an hour. After accounting for time spent getting to and from Penn and Union Station, the commute time is often 100 minutes. In order to entice Marylanders to use public transit to limit congestion and protect our environment, public transit must be a more attractive option than driving. Today, it is not.
To improve public transportation between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, as Governor, I will start by addressing operational issues with the MARC trains. If people are going to use public transportation on a daily basis, they must be confident that the service will get them where they need to go reliably. When a MARC train is delayed, because of a breakdown or otherwise, commuters are late for work or school and understandably less likely to use public transit in the future.
To attract more riders and reduce congestion, 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. Currently, on the Penn Line, the ride during rush hour between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. can take up to 70 minutes. That means that the door-to-door commute time may exceed 100 minutes. A public transit option that takes nearly as long or longer than driving is an unattractive option. If we create non-stop options between the two stations, the train ride would take about 30 minutes, and the total commute would take less than an hour. Further, especially on the Camden Line, the MARC system offers too few train times in the morning and evening. Increasing the number of trains on the MARC simply gives riders additional options that may fit into their schedules. These changes would make public transit a much more attractive option for those who commute between the Baltimore and Washington metro areas on a daily basis, thus reducing congestion, improving quality of life, and preserving the environment.
Marylanders travelling from their homes or jobs to Penn or Union Station accounts for a significant portion of the commute time. Therefore, to improve the service, not only will I work to institute an express train between Baltimore and D.C., but I will also work to ensure that transportation hubs are well-connected within local transportation systems. Particularly in Baltimore, city and state government must do more to provide public transit opportunities that connect population and job centers to Penn Station quickly and efficiently. The local bus, rail, bike, and bus rapid transit systems must be integrated into MARC stops from New Carrollton through West Baltimore and all the stops in-between. Further integrating the major transit hubs with local transit systems would go a long way to making public transit an attractive commuting option for Marylanders.
As Chair of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, I have advocated for and worked on these issues for over a decade. Just in the past several years, we successfully pushed for the expansion of MARC service to Marylanders, particularly on the weekends, as well as dedicated bus lanes throughout Baltimore to improve the bus service.17 18 The state of Maryland will have to work with all interested parties, including Amtrak and CSX, to make sure that the MARC provides the necessary service to Maryland. In fact, it is the Governor’s role to spearhead these discussions and advocate on behalf of the commuters in Maryland. I am confident that we can find a deal that improves the MARC service in Maryland while remaining true to our obligations with CSX and Amtrak.
Each of these proposals to improve the commute between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are short-term fixes. We also need to consider longer-term solutions that hold the prospect of providing revolutionary transit infrastructure and service to Marylanders. In studying these proposals, we must ensure that if, for example, we are going to spend public money on modernized, high-speed projects between Washington DC and Baltimore, the results are accessible to all Marylanders. We need fast and reliable options that all Marylanders can use to get to work or school.
Transit Within Greater Washington Region
Given the strong connection our state has to our nation’s capital, and the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who live and work within the greater D.C. region, Maryland has a significant stake in seeing that Washington, D.C.’s public transportation system is improved. According to census data, those who live in Maryland and work in D.C. drive much more frequently than they take public transportation.19
Improving D.C.’s public transportation system would improve the quality of life of all Maryland, including for those who do not live in the immediate D.C. area, help to protect our environment, and grow our economy.
Governor Hogan’s actions do not reflect an understanding of the importance of the connections between D.C. and Maryland. He has continually put the Purple Line on life-support. While Governor Hogan did not kill the Purple Line, as he did the Baltimore Red Line, he did pull hundreds of millions of dollars from the project, making the Purple Line less reliable and less frequent. A service that is not reliable or frequent simply does not present a more attractive option than driving. With regards to the Metro system in D.C., Governor Hogan has also failed. Marylanders take about 430,000 trips on WMATA transit infrastructure each day.20 Marylanders rely on the Metro to get to and from work in a timely fashion. Governor Hogan’s grandstanding in meetings with regional leaders and refusal to work collaboratively to solve problems is indicative of his larger antipathy towards public transit.21
As Governor, I will work to improve transit outcomes in Washington, D.C. My top priority will be overseeing the completion and integration of the Purple Line. When I am elected, the Purple Line will be in the hands of someone who actually recognizes the value and importance of public transit. I will look to reinforce the Purple Line with the funding it needs to realize its full potential. Also, I will work to ensure that the Purple Line is properly integrated into the existing public transit options in Maryland. Not only should it connect seamlessly to the Metro system in D.C., but it also should provide easy access to the MARC and existing bus lines. The Baltimore, Maryland and D.C. public transit systems should all use the same technology and payment systems. A rider should be able to move seamlessly from the Metro in D.C. to the MARC and then to the Light Rail in Baltimore using the same payment card.
The next Governor of Maryland must also look at ways to work with Washington, D.C. and Virginia. The Metro in D.C. is the only major system in the nation without a dedicated and consistent source of funding.22 As Governor, I will work with all of the entities involved, including the federal government, Washington, D.C. government, and Commonwealth of Virginia, to find a dedicated source of funding. Marylanders across the state rely on the Metro system, and we should pay our fair share. I will collaborate with local jurisdictions in Maryland to give them the flexibility they need to provide funds for a dedicated source. Also, I will work with these parties to connect the MARC and VRE without having to stop and transfer at Union Station. The Maryland-D.C.-Virginia economy is already one of the most robust in the world. However, the current relationship between the jurisdictions mostly focuses on who pays how much and who can poach the next 50-person corporate headquarters. If, instead, all three of these entities work together to build the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia economy, including expanding current transit infrastructure to create a seamless system, our region would be better off economically, environmentally, and culturally.
Looking at possible investments in transit infrastructure through the lens of a comprehensive regional system, where the sum is greater than the total of the parts, and not as individual lines or projects, is crucial for sound transit policy. In the Washington DC area, there are additional transportation plans that should be considered to further expand the network. For example, the state of Maryland should work with Richmond to find a deal that would expand the American Legion Bridge with a lane or two that could then be converted to a track for Purple Line expansion into Northern Virginia. Rather than building a second bridge, which would cost more, threaten agricultural reserves, and require significant political capital in both Annapolis and Richmond, this option would work to alleviate some congestion in the short term while providing options in the long term to expand mass transit. Further, the Maryland counties in the DC area have studied the usefulness and effectiveness of Bus Rapid Transit projects, like the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT). With the amount of traffic that Marylanders sit in on 270, it would make sense to look to add a lane or two for other bus rapid transit options. If these projects connect to existing public transit infrastructure to augment access to the DC Metro system and present an additional option other than driving, they could, as a part of a larger system, improve public transit outcomes.
Transit within Baltimore Metro Region
The city of Baltimore needs a governor who will prioritize investments in its public transportation infrastructure. When Governor Hogan cancelled the Red Line in 2015, he did not just eliminate a rail line and return nearly one billion dollars to the federal government. He derailed the development of a comprehensive transit system in the city. The Red Line would have provided a much-needed East-West rail in the city of Baltimore, 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. He then took every dime of the money the state was going to use to build the Red Line and put it into road construction outside of the city. Baltimore’s consolation prize was the BaltimoreLink bus system, which was originally planned to provide public transit in tandem with the Red Line rather than in replacement of the Red Line. The BaltimoreLink system on its own does not improve commute times or connect Baltimoreans with job centers.23
As Governor, one of my top transportation priorities will be reviving the Red Line. The city of Baltimore, the state of Maryland, and the federal government all got behind the original Red Line plan, which had been in the works for decades, because it would have provided the best service to Marylanders and rejuvenated the city. Governor Hogan lambasted the Red Line because it included a tunnel under the Inner Harbor, calling the plan a “boondoggle.” However, Larry Hogan has recently expressed support for a tunnel that would run from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. It seems that, according to Governor Hogan, spending money on tunneling is a boondoggle if it benefits Baltimore and distressed communities, but not if it benefits the wealthy who can afford hundred dollar tickets for train rides. Failing to develop a modern, quick, and reliable public transit system in Baltimore puts the city at a significant disadvantage, hurting the economy and the quality of life. Amazon has indicated that access to public transit for employees is a key component to their search for a second North American headquarters. Further, access to jobs on public transit is a key component of fighting economic stratification. Prioritizing the completion of the Red Line and starting the creation of a functional and expansive public transit system will significantly improve Baltimore’s prospects for decades to come.
The original planning of the Red Line took decades, with environmental reviews, a long line for federal money, and a concerted effort to get the interests in line and public support. It is unrealistic to expect to fly through the same process in a matter of a couple of years. Therefore, while we plan to revive the Red Line, we also must look for other ways to improve transit outcomes in the city of Baltimore. A Bus Rapid Transit system in the city, starting with an East-West line running across North Avenue could be effective. This system could then be expanded to connect the major population and job centers across the greater Baltimore region. We should begin, as quickly as we can, the process of reviving the Red Line. We must also look for ways, in the short term, to improve transportation options in the city.
Another improvement we can make to Baltimore’s transportation systems is dedicating additional resources for the biking community. The city should expand, not reduce, the number of bike lanes in the city. All buses, MARC trains, and Light Rail lines should be outfitted with bike racks. Transit hubs throughout the region should include additional bike racks. We should begin, as quickly as we can, the process of reviving the Red Line. We must also look for ways, in the short term, to improve transportation options in the city.
The state of Maryland must work with Baltimore City’s government to repurpose the bus system to compliment the rail lines and other existing transit systems. BaltimoreLink, as currently operated, does a very poor job in complimenting the Light Rail and Baltimore Metro, and commute times and scores are reflective of this failure. As we push forward on the Red Line again, and then plan the addition of other rails and spurs, we must also focus on effectively utilizing the bus system as a complimentary option that connects major transit hubs, both locally and regionally. For example, the bus system must do a better job providing quick and reliable access to Penn and Camden Station. While the Light Rail helps, it does not move people east and west. If people do not have quick, frequent, and reliable access to the regional transit hubs, any larger project that connects Baltimore to cities along the Northeast Corridor, including Washington, D.C., will not be nearly as helpful for the greater Baltimore area.
The state of Maryland must partner with localities to do more in job centers outside of the city of Baltimore. When riders use the current Baltimore Metro to reverse-commute to Owings Mills, there is not reliable public transit that connects the Baltimore Metro stops to jobs. Similarly, the Light Rail connects Baltimore to Towson, but there is not a local option that connects light rail stops to job centers. Again, this comes back to one of Maryland’s largest transit failures. We have individual pieces of infrastructure that help, but we do not have a cohesive system. As Governor, I will develop a transportation vision that is well integrated and provides quick and reliable options.
As we develop new transportation infrastructure, we must also work diligently to improve the condition of current infrastructure. For example, Baltimore’s Metro line needs significant upgrading. The system at large is plagued with corroding electrical equipment, debilitating air quality, rodent infestations, and mothballs. Anecdotes from a 2016 visit to the Mondawmin Metro Stations indicate just how critical the problems have become. Electrical wires are frayed and dangling into puddles. Trash and filth often cover the third rail. The main command switchboard is out of date and decaying. Air filters are unmaintained. Mothballs are periodically used to cover the smell of rotting rat carcasses. This must change. In order for the Metro to realize its full potential, it needs upgraded facilities and continued investment to ensure these types of problems are dealt with at the time, rather than piling up like they have now. Further, these conditions are extremely dangerous for the employees who work in the Baltimore Metro system. We have seen deteriorating conditions prove deadly for transit workers in other states. When I am Governor, not only will we make these necessary continual investments, but we will also develop a strong relationship with the interested parties to respond to their concerns in constructive ways.
A Plan for The Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, Western Maryland
Maryland’s more rural communities need better access to public transit. Those who live in Easton or Salisbury should have options for getting to work other than driving. So should those who live in Hagerstown or Frederick. As Governor, I will examine in public bus systems to connect communities across the state, including in Eastern Shore and Western Maryland job centers, population centers, and other public transit infrastructure that provides access to Central Maryland. For example, around the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (Pax River) in St. Mary’s County, we should explore whether there are opportunities to expand and improve bus services to provide employees with access to the local and regional job centers. In addition to commuter buses into the Washington D.C. city center, a commuter bus service or Bus Rapid Transit line that connects those in Waldorf with the D.C. Metro at Branch Avenue is an area to study. In Western Maryland, communities should have access to public transit options that connect to the Brunswick MARC line.
I will examine the possibility of expanding the MARC Brunswick Line into Garrett County in Western Maryland. Currently, the Brunswick Line runs from Union Station in Washington, D.C. to Martinsburg, West Virginia, with only a two-stop extension into Frederick County. As a result, tens of thousands of people living in Western Maryland have limited access to other regional job centers and central Maryland on public transit. That will change when I am elected Governor. The current Brunswick line does not provide a reliable option for those who live in Frederick and commute to D.C. A full 68% of Frederick County commuters to D.C. travel in a car.25 Improving the Brunswick Line service will help alleviate congestion across the state, but especially on 495 and I-270.
Similarly, I will convene regional leaders to discuss potential enhancements to the existing, and very limited, public transit options on the Eastern Shore. It is nearly impossible to navigate the Eastern Shore without a car. Multi-county transit services such as Shore Transit and Maryland Upper Shore Transit (MUST) need to be integrated into the statewide plan. I will carefully review these services to determine how they could expand or compliment other transit infrastructure.
Finally, we will continue to prioritize improving the interstate system around cities and towns on the Eastern Shore and in 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. In Somerset County, 19.1 percent of the bridges are structurally deficient. Similarly, in Garrett County, 12.9 percent of the bridges are structurally deficient.26 The state government must commit to funding the necessary maintenance required for our transit infrastructure to improve the safety and efficiency of our roads. In Southern Maryland, overseeing a successful rejuvenation of the Harry Nice Bridge is critical for transportation outcomes. Also, the Thomas Johnson Bridge between Calvert and St. Mary’s counties needs to be reinforced and expanded. We will remain committed to servicing our roads and bridges so that routine maintenance does not become exorbitantly expensive reconstruction due to past neglect. Road and bridge safety is one of the most important driving factors behind an effective transportation plan. Our roads must be safe for the millions of drivers, passengers, and vehicles that use Maryland roads on a daily basis. All of these infrastructure projects will improve the economy, environment, and quality of life of people living in communities across Maryland.
The 1950s ushered in a period of strong post-war economic growth in the United States during which the federal and state governments prioritized transportation infrastructure and built the interstate highway system. That system, upon which we continue to rely, drastically improved the economic possibilities and the quality of life of in our country. We built the interstate highway system in the 1950s because we had a plan for when the economy improved after World War II and the federal government was willing to invest in infrastructure. Similar conditions will present themselves again, and we must have a united and well-developed plan at hand to capitalize and compete. This will not happen overnight. We need to be patient, yet standing at the ready to exploit potential opportunities.
Developing an all-encompassing public transit system will create an inter-connected populace and increase the economic attractiveness of our state. Moreover, the infrastructure investments themselves will lead to significant short-term and long-term economic gains. For example, in the short term, physical infrastructure projects will create thousands of good jobs with living wages. And, studies show that in the long term, infrastructure investment more than pays for itself through economic growth. The Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore is a great example of the substantial return on investing in infrastructure projects. The Terminal was directly responsible for significant additional tax flow into the state, $140 million in new funding for transportation improvements, and 5,700 new jobs.27 Instead of treating infrastructure spending as a cost to the state, we must consider the long-term economic advantages it presents.
There are other creative ways to finance infrastructure that do not require the state and local governments to bear the full cost. One example is public-private partnerships (P3s). As Governor, I will remain open to P3s and the opportunities they present to invest in infrastructure throughout the state. In Maryland alone, public-private partnerships are responsible for the successful completion of the Seagirt Marina Terminal and I-95 Travel Plazas at Chesapeake House and Maryland House, and the Purple Line is also being partially funded through a P3.28
In other states, P3s have been used to fund highway construction projects, rail projects, school construction, and city park developments. Many of these projects would not have moved forward without private money. However, we must be vigilant. These partnerships must only be used in situations in which there is not enough capital for the project to move forward, and they cannot devolve into yet another system of corporate handouts. In the original negotiation of these deals, we must impose significant quality standards to the infrastructure is maintained and so it provides a valuable service to Marylanders. I will seek out and be responsive to new opportunities for infrastructure projects and ensure that the state money is being used effectively to benefit the citizens of Maryland.
Unlike Governor Hogan, when I am Governor, I will value transit accountability in all of its forms. First, I will happily and consistently adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Transportation Scoring Bill. Marylanders should be confident that, when they send their tax dollars to Annapolis, they are being used efficiently and effectively. As Chair of Venable and as Chair of the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland, I consistently used funds efficiently to grow my business and provide the best service possible to Maryland’s students. For example, as Chair of the Board of Regents, I prioritized our Effectiveness and Efficiency Initiative, and unveiled a 2.0 model that focused on ways we could use technology to save money. When I was Chair, the initiative saved our system hundreds of millions of dollars.29 Over the course of my career, in both the private and public sectors, I have always prioritized the greatest needs and the projects with the greatest returns to use funds effectively.
That process is exactly what the transportation scoring bill requires. Projects must be compared to each other for effectiveness and return on investment, and the ones with the best results will be prioritized. Then, if a project that, for some reason, does not compare well to others but is crucial for our transit infrastructure, I will write an open letter to the public explaining my decision. Again, this comes down to the fact that Marylanders should be confident that the Governor is allocating their tax dollars effectively.
I will also work to pass a bill that creates an oversight board for Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). The MTA is one of the only major transportation systems that does not have an oversight board. While following the guidelines set forth in the transportation scoring bill will help, an oversight board will be tasked with providing accountability to the selection of appropriate projects and also ensuring that the implementation is efficient and smooth. I will work to make sure that the oversight board properly represents the MTA’s ridership. The people who use the services the most should have a proportional say in how the MTA is run and the decisions the MTA makes. By establishing an oversight board, my administration will make it clear that we want to be held accountable. When we do a good job, we want people to know. When we don’t, we want to be notified immediately and we want to fix the problem. My administration will institute the necessary accountability standards to ensure that it is actually providing the best service it can to the people of Maryland.
Finally, I will work closely with my Transportation Secretary to make public MTA data on the reliability, speed, and efficiency of our transit systems. When developing the different routes for the new and unimproved BaltimoreLink, the Hogan Administration failed to provide data on important metrics so that the system could be studied, compared, and graded. When one couples this with his pushback on other accountability measures, including the transportation scoring bill and the MTA oversight board, a pattern appears. He does not want to be held to account. I will make the ridership data publicly available so that Marylanders across the state can track the speed and reliability of Maryland’s public transit.
We should not hide the results of our transit systems. We should study them and devise steps to make the systems more efficient and attractive to Maryland’s citizens. By routinely making the ridership data available, we will invite discussion and ideas, and we will be held accountable to the people.
A First-Rate Transit System
We know what needs to be done. We need additional transit options in the greater Baltimore region. We need a more integrated system in the Washington, D.C. region. We need a stronger connection between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. We need routine maintenance of our bridges and roads. We need an accountability system that ensures we are spending our money efficiently and effectively and that our transit infrastructure is doing what it was designed to do. However, more than anything, need a leader in Annapolis who is willing to devise a plan, outline metrics for completion, and execute. I have the executive experience and leadership skills to turn these ideas into a reality. I know how to lead huge organizations and accomplish significant achievements. With your support and a strong sense of commitment to our transit systems, we will create jobs, protect our environment, and increase the quality of life across the state of Maryland. We will have a world-class transit system. We cannot squander another four years without a statewide plan, strong performance metrics, and 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.
1 Dresser, Michael. “Hogan Shifts Money To Roads, But Not Everyone’s A Winner.” Baltimore Sun. 18, July
2 Dorsey, Ryan. Twitter. 3, November 2017. https://twitter.com/ElectRyanDorsey/
3 “Amazon HQ2 RFP.” Amazon. 7, September 2017. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/
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25, June 2015. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-md-hogan-transportation-
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Transportation Alliance. 2017. http://cmtalliance.org/uploads/file/reports/Will%20We%20Be%20
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25, June 2015. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-md-hogan-transportation-
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The Beltway And I-270 To Include 4 Toll Lanes.” Washington Post. 21, September 2017. https://www.
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20 “Maryland House Bill 300.” Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. December 2015. https://
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28 “Public-Private Partnerships In Maryland.” Maryland Transportation Authority. http://www.mdta.
29 “Effectiveness and Efficiency Initiative.” University System of Maryland. http://www.usmd.edu/usm/