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Pushback on proposed MTA budget cuts; Coalition sends letter to Governor Hogan

Posted at 10:44 PM, Sep 23, 2020

BALTIMORE — The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance (CMTA) is calling on Governor Larry Hogan to cancel MDOT MTA proposed budget cuts, saying "we should not be balancing the state transportation budget on the backs of brown and black essential workers".

Earlier this month, MTA announced it would cut its fiscal year 2021 operating budget by $43 million. As a result, bus service will be slashed by 20%, eliminating 25 bus routes and reducing several others.

The transit agency also plans to eliminate all nine express bus routes that connect the suburbs to the city.

There are a number of proposed changes to commuter bus and the MARC train, but MTA is also expanding services in some areas.

MTA blames the cuts on the coronavirus pandemic, which caused low ridership and an unprecedented drop in revenue.

"The financial impact created by the COVID-19 crisis has created an unparalleled challenge for transit agencies across the US and many are facing difficult decisions,” said Kevin Quinn, MDOT MTA Administrator. “MDOT MTA will continue to strive for a safe, reliable and equitable transit system that provides opportunity to all citizens in the Baltimore region.”

MTA said the proposed cuts would impact approximately 3.6% of riders.

While many transit agencies are faced with the same financial challenges, CMTA believes the cuts to services in the Baltimore region are going too far.

In the letter sent to the governor on Wednesday, CMTA said, "many households lack access to a car and far more lack a car for every worker. Your proposal to cut core bus service by 20% would be a blow to a workforce that lacks alternatives."

Baltimore resident Ronald Perry said the cuts will be "unfair" to Baltimore citizens. Perry doesn't have a car and relies on the bus as his main form of transportation. A few months ago, he said LocalLink 91, which goes from Sinai Hospital to the Mondawmin bus terminal, was his only way to check on his wife who was in the hospital.

The bus route is one of the 25 that is at risk of being eliminated.

"Other than that, I didn't have the funds to catch a cab or to get any other type of transportation," he said. "They shouldn't be eliminating anything."

Perry is also hoping the governor reconsiders because losing more than two dozen routes will be a devastating blow to the people of Baltimore.

“In Baltimore city, we’ve already have it hard enough," he said. "This just makes it much more harder in order for us to be able to get to where we need to get to take care of the essential things that we need to take care of.”

MTA plans to hold 10 virtual public hearing for local bus between October 5th and October 16th about the proposed changes as a part of a 30-day public review and comment period that ends November 15th.

For more information, you can click on this link here

Full letter from CMTA to Governor Hogan below: