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Maryland Is In A Huge Transit Hole

12:36 AM EDT on July 23, 2019

The Maryland Transit Administration has a $2 billion shortfall due to the state underfunding its priorities.

These are dire times for transit in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Years of underfunding transit in the Old Line State has left the Maryland Transit Administration $2-billion short of the $5.7 billion needed to run its bus and rail system over the next decade, according to an MTA report revealed in the Baltimore Sun.

The MTA's efforts to upgrade and replace aging infrastructure comes with a $4.2-billion price tag while keeping its transit system in a state of good repair costs $1.5 billion. But the agency which serves 380,000 riders per day and roughly 112 million a year, has only $3.7 billion to spend for its transportation projects from the state, the MTA report said.

The most pressing needs consist of $403 million for facilities, $372 million for stations, $287 million for new buses and train cars, $294 million for new tracks, and $179 million for system maintenance, the MTA report said.

And yet the MTA's funding plan does not include projects that would add more rail and bus lines to the system or reduce travel times throughout eastern Maryland transit advocate and president of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance Brian O’Malley told the Baltimore Sun.

"With no projects planned for this region to provide the significant capacity improvements needed this report also underscores the need for a strong Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan to identify how we can come together to meaningfully improve transit options for Central Maryland residents, ” O’Malley said.

Baltimore residents have already endured the month-long closure of their subway system for emergency track repairs and safety inspections last February.

The shutdown sparked Maryland legislators to pass legislation requiring the MTA to prepare a report highlighting the region's transit needs and their costs.

State Delegate Brooke Lierman told the Baltimore Sun that the report shows that Gov. Larry Hogan and Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn are "drastically under-funding investments in our public transit infrastructure."

“Now that there is a full accounting of the need, I look forward to hearing from Secretary Rahn and Gov. [Larry] Hogan what their plan is to ensure public transit infrastructure — the buses, the transit cars that Marylanders ride on every day — are in a state of good repair and are safe," Lierman said.

The Hogan administration pointed to $14 billion in investment the state has pumped into the MTA and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority between 2019 and 2024. State transportation officials will present the state's six-year spending plan to state lawmakers in the fall.

Yet Hogan has been stingy with transit funding.

His administration is refusing to hand over $55.9 million by July 1 to the WMATA, which runs the district's and surrounding counties' subway and bus system, because of a dispute regarding certified financial reports. With Rahn being sworn in as the authority's newest board member, there was some hope among transit officials the standoff would be resolved this month.

Washington's transit could certainly use the cash.

Six Yellow and Blue line stations are closed this summer so Metro could rebuild station platforms and make extensive repairs. And an 11-mile extension of the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport has been beset by delays because switches in the rail yard do not line up with the tracks and the failure of systems detecting train locations in the yard.

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