Tran­sit for peo­ple, not em­ploy­ers

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS -

In a re­cent com­men­tary (“The next Mary­land gover­nor should in­vest where the jobs are: Bal­ti­more,” Sept. 25), the im­por­tance of trans­porta­tion was boiled down to the move­ment of la­bor to points of pro­duc­tion. I re­ject the premise that trans­porta­tion should be a scarce re­source to be doled out based on em­ploy­ment trends on a re­gional level. The move­ment of peo­ple — pub­lic tran­sit — should be viewed as a pub­lic good de­ter­mined by the needs of peo­ple, not busi­ness.

All peo­ple de­serve ac­cess to af­ford­able, high-qual­ity pub­lic trans­porta­tion that con­nects them to the so­cial goods they need. By look­ing pri­mar­ily at job creation data, the op-ed over­looked se­niors, stu­dents, the dis­abled, the un­der­em­ployed, long-term un­em­ployed and those who have given up look­ing for work. These groups of peo­ple are of­ten those who need pub­lic trans­porta­tion the most. This is not char­i­ta­ble “eq­uity.” It is far more ex­pen­sive to iso­late these groups than it is to con­nect them to ar­eas of pros­per­ity and op­por­tu­nity.

Sec­ond, rather than be­grudge Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties their trans­porta­tion fund­ing, Bal­ti­more­ans should look to how del­e­gates and state se­na­tors from those places suc­ceeded in bring­ing home the trans­porta­tion ba­con and ask why our own del­e­gates and se­na­tors have failed to ad­e­quately do so.

Fi­nally, for Bal­ti­more to suc­ceed, we must un­der­stand that the ur­ban core has been sub­si­diz­ing the sub­urbs in sur­round­ing coun­ties for decades to the core’s detri­ment. De­cid­ing trans­porta­tion pol­icy based on job creation data on a re­gional level ob­scures how for many years, peo­ple from pros­per­ous sub­urbs have been us­ing pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture (such as roads, the light rail, Metro and MARC) to ben­e­fit from all Bal­ti­more has to of­fer eco­nom­i­cally and cul­tur­ally while leav­ing the city to strug­gle fi­nan­cially. This dy­namic can­not be re­versed via trans­porta­tion pol­icy alone. How­ever, pri­or­i­tiz­ing adding new Metro stops in South­east and East Bal­ti­more to ex­pand it east to Johns Hop­kins Bayview, as well as sev­eral in West Bal­ti­more via a western spur off the Lex­ing­ton Mar­ket Sta­tion, in­stead of car­centric ini­tia­tives like widen­ing the Belt­way proven to fail at ad­dress­ing con­ges­tion, would be a good start.

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