Planned Bal­ti­more bus over­haul crit­i­cized

Baltimore Sun - - AROUND THE REGION -

A trans­porta­tion ad­vo­cacy group warned Thurs­day that the Mary­land Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan to over­haul bus routes around Bal­ti­more “falls well short” of bet­ter con­nect­ing peo­ple to jobs, schools and healthy food. The Cen­tral Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Al­liance is call­ing on the MTA to spend more money build­ing bu­sonly lanes and in­stalling traf­fic sig­nals that would al­low buses to swiftly move through the city. The state also should do more to im­prove ac­cess for peo­ple in low- and mid­dle-wage jobs, the group said. Brian O’Mal­ley, the al­liance’s pres­i­dent, said the planned bus sys­tem would run bet­ter for res­i­dents in some city neigh­bor­hoods than oth­ers, and ser­vice would de­crease on week­ends. The new plan is set to take ef­fect in June. “It’s not sur­pris­ing when we look at the fund­ing,” he said. “The state so far is not mean­ing­fully in­creas­ing the re­sources the MTA has to work with.” The over­haul, called Bal­ti­moreLink, would cost $135 mil­lion over six years, in­clud­ing $65 mil­lion for cap­i­tal ex­penses and $70 mil­lion for oper­a­tions. O’Mal­ley said that rep­re­sents a less than 2 per­cent in­crease in MTA’s an­nual op­er­at­ing bud­get. He said the MTA needs to re­spond to “an ur­gent need” in the area for pub­lic trans­porta­tion that could im­prove the lives of peo­ple liv­ing in poverty. The al­liance is call­ing on Gov. Larry Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to act. Ho­gan spokesman Doug Mayer called the group’s re­port “com­plete non­sense.” He said the Cen­tral Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Al­liance “is ex­tremely bi­ased at best.” “They be­came fre­quent crit­ics of the Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion when their pet project, the Red Line, did not move for­ward,” Mayer said. “In­stead of mis­lead­ing the pub­lic, they should join with MTA on their mis­sion to trans­form and vastly im­prove Bal­ti­more’s bus sys­tem — an ef­fort that is well un­der­way.”

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