Angry bus riders at transit town hall meeting express frustration with BaltimoreLink

Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition president Samuel Jordan participated as a panel member at a town hall meeting on June 26 concerning MTA’s rollout of the new BaltimoreLink bus system. The overwhelming majority of community members who spoke at the town hall meeting were opposed to BaltimoreLink, and demanded that MTA restore Baltimore’s old bus routes and numbering system.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced BaltimoreLink in 2015, claiming it would be a replacement for the east-west Red Line light rail and subway which he canceled.

Read the Baltimore Sun’s coverage of the town hall meeting here.

Guest speaker Del. Robbyn Lewis at April 27 BTEC meeting

Please join the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition this Thursday, April 27 as we welcome guest speaker Delegate Robbyn Lewis.

Del. Lewis has been a fierce champion for public transportation, and a long-time frontline organizer and advocate for the construction of the Red Line.  She has agreed to work with BTEC and help coordinate our campaign during the next session in Annapolis. Join us to hear her insights into public transportation in Baltimore and learn what you can do to help build the Red Line!

What: Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition meeting featuring guest speak Del. Robbyn Lewis

When: 6pm

Where: Center for Urban Families (CFUF), 2201 N. Monroe Street, Baltimore

Baltimore Sun: Obama administration announces civil rights review of Maryland transportation

On President Barack Obama’s last full day in office, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would conduct a sweeping review of Maryland’s transportation policies to determine whether they violate federal civil rights rules.

The department made the decision after investigating complaints about Gov. Larry Hogan’s cancellation of the Baltimore Red Line light-rail project in 2015. It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump’s Transportation Department will continue the probe.

Read the full story here from the Baltimore Sun

See the press release from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Join us for “Last House Standing” at Arena Players!

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Flyer for “Last House Standing”

Join the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition (BTEC) this Saturday for “Last House Standing”, a play about West Baltimore’s Highway to Nowhere. Afterwards, please join with members of BTEC for a talkback about how transportation decisions and policies have affected the quality of life in our city.

When: Saturday, November 12 @ 8pm
Where: Arena Players, Inc., 1801 McCullough Street, Baltimore MD 21201
Price: $15 per ticket and please make a donation of $5 to the Transit Equity Coalition.

Purchase tickets online here.

Letter to Paul Comfort, Administrator & CEO, MTA

Greetings, Mr. Comfort:

The Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition has monitored with great interest improvements proposed for the Baltimore Link system. Like many others, we were encouraged by the prospect of “transformative” changes in the existing bus service programs managed and operated by MTA.

We are nevertheless concerned that MTA has perhaps overly promised. We note emphatically for example that your investment in matters of “reliability” may have functioned to divert your focus away from reducing commute times. Through our outreach with transportation system users, particularly the transit-dependent (those without access to automobiles), we have learned that reduced commute times is the transportation parameter that frankly “makes all the difference.” As a result, we have been led by our contact with transportation system riders to view commute times in a larger context.

Due to the importance we ascribe to jobs, economic development, and reduced commute times, features that characterize an efficient, multi-modal regional transit network, the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition advocates for completion of the Red Line light rail project, which was cancelled by Governor Hogan in June of 2015. As an east-west transit axis, long-needed in Baltimore, a completed Red Line will bring major employment centers closer through reduced commute times, provide over 10,000 jobs, stimulate economic growth and development, and provide a connecting spine for disjointed bus and rail lines that currently dominate Baltimore’s public transportation options.

Reinforcing the urgency of reduced commute times, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) report, “What Happened in Baltimore and What Can We Do?” insists that with commutes over 45 minutes, “chances are high for a worker to not keep a job and become unemployed.” – BNIA (2016). Further, according to a report commissioned by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council (BMC), a source upon which you rely for much of your Baltimore Link system analysis data, the average commute “of citizens in East & West Baltimore to any regions with living wage jobs available such as BWI-Nursery Road, Hunt Valley, or the new Amazon warehouse is 90 minutes one way.” – Transit Choices (2016).

Not only would we urge MTA to build the Red Line and immediately expend its energies more directly in reducing commute times especially for the transit-dependent, but we would also have MTA take cognizance of the intersection that transportation occupies in matters of employment, housing, education, and health care. In other words, most apparent by its absence, has been any hint of recognition by MTA that transportation has a strategic role in the resolution of critical social problems. This is, after all, Freddie Gray’s Baltimore, a transit-inequitable city.

Sincerely,

Samuel Jordan,

President and Convener Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition

Transit advocates renew call for Red Line as part of statewide rail network

Grassroots transit advocates from across Maryland gathered Tuesday morning in front of Baltimore’s Penn Station to launch a statewide coalition. Joining them were elected officials from around the state, including State Senator Jim Rosapepe, Delegate Brooke Lierman, and County Council members Hans Riemer and Mel Franklin from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Samuel Jordan and Min. Glenn Smith of BTEC

The coalition’s vision is a “Connected Maryland” — a statewide rail network that stretches from Elkton to Frederick and from Waldorf to Towson. For the price of one recently proposed highway widening — the $8 billion plan to add toll lanes to I-270 and the American Legion Bridge — the state could build:

  • The east-west Red Line which will create a connected Baltimore transit network
  • Southern Maryland Light Rail from Branch Avenue Metro station to Waldorf and White Plains in Charles County
  • The 2007 MARC Growth and Investment Plan, which will run all three MARC lines all day both ways, with trains every 15-20 minutes from Washington through Baltimore Penn Station

“We need to look past today’s squabbles and think about our future,” said coalition chair Ben Ross, who led the grassroots movement that turned the Purple Line, once the dream of a few activists, into a fully funded construction project. “Investing in transit will create a more prosperous and equitable Maryland.”

“Transit is driving economic growth and job creation in Montgomery County,” Riemer pointed out. “It attracts business because it makes our county a good place to live. All-day two-way service on MARC would take us to the next level by meshing with the Purple Line and Metro Red Line to create a county-wide rail network.”

Prince George’s Council member Franklin added, “Creating an expanded rail transit network to connect Maryland citizens with good jobs is the key to building a world-class economy in our State. New light rail service from Branch Avenue to Waldorf will mean a faster commute to Washington for thousands of our citizens, and will ignite new economic growth and prosperity in communities all along the MD 5 corridor to Southern Maryland.”

“The residents of Baltimore City and all of Central Maryland deserve and need access to jobs, activities, and schools on reliable and accessible public transit,” Lierman said. “We could be a truly connected region through a combination of light rail, water travel, bus options, and bikes — but today we are not. Creating one connected region where employers have access to employees, and residents have access to jobs, depends on investments at every level of government. Coalitions like MTOC demonstrate that Marylanders from around the state share a desire and need for better public transportation.”

Affiliated with the new coalition are the Action Committee for Transit (Montgomery County), Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit, and the Southern Maryland Alliance for Rapid Transit. MTOC is led by Ross as chair and vice-chairs Samuel Jordan (Baltimore City), Gary V. Hodge (Southern Maryland), Karren Pope-Onwukwe (Prince George’s County), Ronit Aviva Dancis (Montgomery County), and Sharonlee Vogel (Howard County).

Baltimore Sun: Transit advocates renew call for Red Line as part of statewide rail network

Elijah Cummings: “Missing Links” in BaltimoreLink plan

Rep. Elijah Cummings had the following to say in his Sept. 30 op-ed in the Baltimore Sun:

“For many Baltimore residents, the MTA bus service’s routes and timings determine the patterns — and the very reach — of their lives.

“Many of the Baltimore communities in which opportunity is most limited —and in which access to a private vehicle is lowest — would have been served by the proposed Red Line light rail system.

“This is why the governor’s decision to cancel the Red Line and walk away from as much as $900 million in federal funding that could have been invested in that project was a decision about more than just a rail line. It was a decision that will shape the connections and barriers that will continue to define the geography of our city and its residents’ lives for decades to come.”

See the full op-ed here.

BTEC to participate in Transportation Leadership Academy

The Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition is proud to announce that our President and Convener, Samuel Jordan, has been selected by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to participate as a fellow in the inaugural Every Place Counts: Leadership Academy on October 5, 2016.

The Leadership Academy provides an opportunity for transportation advocates from around the country to learn and refine best practices in influencing transportation policies and decisions. In addition, Leadership Academy fellows with help to develop a Transportation Toolkit that will be made available on an open source platform to agencies, community groups, and individuals nationally.

Secretary Foxx also urges fellows to host Leadership Academies in the locales where they are engaged as transportation activists.