Baltimore Congressional Delegation Presses Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Funding for City’s Transit System

August 13, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (August 13, 2015)— Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (all D-MD) sent a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan pressing him to detail how much money his administration is willing to invest in Baltimore’s transit system. The letter comes three days after a Monday, August 10th meeting hosted by Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn on the Governor’s decision to cancel the Red Line project, which Cummings, Mikulski and Sarbanes attended.

“We appreciated the opportunity to meet with Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn on August 10 to discuss your decision to cancel the Red Line project,” the Members wrote. “However, we left the meeting uncertain about the exact amounts of money that your administration expects to invest in Baltimore’s transit system.”

In June, Governor Hogan announced that he will not build the Red Line, which would have connected the east and west sides of Baltimore. During Monday’s meeting, Secretary Rahn stated that the Hogan Administration intends to invest in Baltimore’s existing transit system, but refused to identify the amount of funding that would be available to implement improvements.

According to the Census Bureau, from 2011 to 2013, the median household income for Baltimore City—$41,000—was more than $30,000 less than the median household income of the entire state of Maryland—$72,000. Building the Red Line would have provided much-needed access to public transportation to areas of the city where the median income is as low as $31,000 and where 39 percent of households lack access to an automobile, according to the Jacob France Institute.

Specifically, the Members asked the Governor to answer the following questions:

  1. Secretary Rahn indicated during the meeting on August 10 that the State of Maryland will be spending approximately $1.5 billion on transit in Baltimore over the next six years – a claim repeated by a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) according to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun.  The Sun article also reports that the MDOT spokesperson identified a list of projects on which the $1.5 billion is to be spent, including “replacing 90 cars in the MTA’s Metro Subway fleet, replacing the 65-year-old bus maintenance and operation facility at the Kirk Bus Division, and implementing new technology on buses to provide a true real-time bus arrival system.” Many of these projects seem intended to maintain or repair existing transit systems – or to upgrade existing structures – rather than to expand system capacity or create new infrastructure.  Can you please identify the projects on which the $1.5 billion you already plan to invest in transit in Baltimore will be expended?  Also, can you identify how much of the $1.5 billion will be derived from each of federal, state, and other sources?
  1. How much money does your administration expect to expend on Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) transit operations over the next four years?  How much of the expenditure will come from each of federal, state, and other sources?
  1. Secretary Rahn and MTA Administrator Comfort indicated during the meeting on August 10 that specific measures are under consideration to improve the MTA’s operations.  As reported in the Baltimore Sun, MDOT expects to present a plan for such improvements within the next two months.  What are the types of improvements under consideration, how much money does your administration plan to make available to implement these improvements, and how much of that sum will be derived from each of federal, state, and other sources?
     
  2. Secretary Rahn also indicated during the meeting on August 10 that your administration would notify the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) this week that it will not be pursuing the Red Line project and will not apply for the federal funding appropriated for the project.  Have you made such notification to the FTA – or, on what date will the notification be made – and what was the total amount of funding you indicated the state will not need for this canceled project?
     
  3. Finally, how much funding will your administration make available – whether from the Transportation Trust Fund or from any other source – to support a capital investment in Baltimore that will result in the construction of new transportation infrastructure to provide new capacity for the city’s transit system?

The Members continued, “We believe that understanding the amount of money you plan to invest in Baltimore’s transit system will enable us to understand the parameters of what is truly possible for Baltimore under your administration.”

A PDF of the letter can be found here and the full text follows:

August 13, 2015

The Honorable Larry Hogan
Governor
State of Maryland
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Governor Hogan:

We write today to seek additional information on the specific amounts of money that you plan to expend on transit in Baltimore, including any amounts that will be available to be invested in a new transit capital project(s) in the City.  We appreciated the opportunity to meet with Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn on August 10 to discuss your decision to cancel the Red Line project.  However, we left the meeting uncertain about the exact amounts of money that your administration expects to invest in Baltimore’s transit system.

Specifically, we would like to know the answers to the following questions:  

  1. Secretary Rahn indicated during the meeting on August 10 that the State of Maryland will be spending approximately $1.5 billion on transit in Baltimore over the next six years – a claim repeated by a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) according to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun.  The Sun article also reports that the MDOT spokesperson identified a list of projects on which the $1.5 billion is to be spent, including “replacing 90 cars in the MTA’s Metro Subway fleet, replacing the 65-year-old bus maintenance and operation facility at the Kirk Bus Division, and implementing new technology on buses to provide a true real-time bus arrival system.”[1]  Many of these projects seem intended to maintain or repair existing transit systems – or to upgrade existing structures – rather than to expand system capacity or create new infrastructure.  Can you please identify the projects on which the $1.5 billion you already plan to invest in transit in Baltimore will be expended?  Also, can you identify how much of the $1.5 billion will be derived from each of federal, state, and other sources?
  1. How much money does your administration expect to expend on Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) transit operations over the next four years?  How much of the expenditure will come from each of federal, state, and other sources?
  1. Secretary Rahn and MTA Administrator Comfort indicated during the meeting on August 10 that specific measures are under consideration to improve the MTA’s operations.  As reported in the Baltimore Sun, MDOT expects to present a plan for such improvements within the next two months.  What are the types of improvements under consideration, how much money does your administration plan to make available to implement these improvements, and how much of that sum will be derived from each of federal, state, and other sources?
  1. Secretary Rahn also indicated during the meeting on August 10 that your administration would notify the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) this week that it will not be pursuing the Red Line project and will not apply for the federal funding appropriated for the project.  Have you made such notification to the FTA – or, on what date will the notification be made – and what was the total amount of funding you indicated the state will not need for this canceled project?
  1. Finally, how much funding will your administration make available – whether from the Transportation Trust Fund or from any other source – to support a capital investment in Baltimore that will result in the construction of new transportation infrastructure to provide new capacity for the City’s transit system?

During the August 10 meeting, Secretary Rahn asked attendees for their inputs on how transit in Baltimore can be improved but he refused to identify the amount of funding that would be available to implement such improvements.  The citizens of Baltimore want to know that under your administration, Baltimore – the beating heart of Maryland – will get “back on track” and be a place of “unlimited promise.”[2]  We believe that understanding the amount of money you plan to invest in Baltimore’s transit system will enable us to understand the parameters of what is truly possible for Baltimore under your administration. 

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

Benjamin Cardin
United State Senator

Elijah E. Cummings
Member of Congress

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress

John P. Sarbanes
Member of Congress

cc:        The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor, City of Baltimore
             Pete K. Rahn, Secretary, Maryland Department of Transportation

 

“Hogan officials, analysts clash over Baltimore transit funds,” Baltimore Sun (Aug. 11, 2015) (online at https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-ci-red-line-analyst-20150811-story.html#page=1).

2 State of the State Address: “A New Direction for Maryland,” Office of Governor Larry Hogan (Feb. 4, 2015) (online at https://governor.maryland.gov/2015/02/04/state-of-the-state-address/).