Elected of­fi­cials join call to change Baltimore bus plan

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Yvonne Wenger ywenger@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/yvon­newenger

Baltimore’s tran­sit workers union is ask­ing bus rid­ers to join them in call­ing for the state to re­think its over­haul of the bus sys­tem.

Dels. Ch­eryl Glenn and Cory McCray, City Coun­cil­woman Mary Pat Clarke and City Coun­cil­man-elect John Bul­lock joined the union Mon­day to back its al­ter­na­tive to Bal­ti­moreLink, the pro­posal of the Mary­land Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan has pro­posed a $135 mil­lion project to re­duce a bot­tle­neck of bus routes that con­verge down­town by con­sol­i­dat­ing them into shorter, higher-fre­quency lines.

“The Peo­ple’s Al­ter­na­tive to Bal­ti­moreLink,” the union pro­posal, would cost more than twice as much. The $287 mil­lion pro­posal in­cludes a rapid bus sys­tem along 14 miles of streets, ad­di­tional stops along busy routes and a process to en­able rid­ers to pay their fares be­fore board­ing.

“The state has the re­spon­si­bil­ity that ev­ery cit­i­zen in the state of Mary­land and the Baltimore re­gion has safe ac­cess to fresh food, hos­pi­tals, education and jobs,” said McCray, a Baltimore Demo­crat. “And we know it’s the state’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide trans­porta­tion to get those places.”

Mem­ber­sof Amal­ga­mated Tran­sit Workers Union Lo­cal 1300 said they will dis­trib­ute leaflets at bus sta­tions across the city, knock on doors and at­tend com­mu­nity meet­ings to gain sup­port for a pe­ti­tion.

About 2,500 driv­ers, bus op­er­a­tors, dis­patch­ers, me­chan­ics and main­te­nance workers be­long to the lo­cal chap­ter.

So far, the union has 500 sig­na­tures. Of­fi­cials said they ex­pect to gather more sig­na­tures and de­liver the pe­ti­tion to the Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion in early De­cem­ber.

MTA spokesman Paul Shep­ard said the agency con­tin­ues to ac­cept feed­back on the plan. MTA lead­er­ship has met with the union to dis­cuss the plan.

“At this point, Bal­ti­moreLink is mov­ing for­ward, but MTA lead­ers are not op­posed to con­sid­er­ing other sug­ges­tions,” Shep­ard said in a state­ment. “Noth­ing is off the ta­ble.”

David McClure, the pres­i­dent of Lo­cal 1300, said the union’s pro­posal in­te­grates most of the MTA’s ideas while call­ing for ad­di­tional in­vest­ment in ar­eas that tran­sit workers see need fix­ing.

Bul­lock, who was elected this month to rep­re­sent the 9th District in West Baltimore, said Ho­gan’s de­ci­sion to can­cel the Red Line “squan­dered” mil­lions of dol­lars in in­vest­ment and thou­sands of jobs. He said the MTA should work with the union to de­velop a bet­ter plan.

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