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.
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).