In Baltimore the rate increases are needed because the Mayor and City Council want to give the newly built luxury enterprise zones.....all affluent, free Circulator bus service aroung the city downtown. So if you live in Canton, work at Legg Mason, you can go to lunch in Federal Hill and shop at the Gallery without ever using your car or paying for public transportation. The rest of the city has such poor transportation with rising fare prices as a result of this shifting of funding. I had an MTA driver say to me that the posted MTA schedules tell the rider when to be there ---- not the driver. Most drivers do their best in a system that has deliberately been left to fail.
Everytime a new Circulator bus line starts, it turns the MTA into a public-private partnership with taxpayer money funding a private company paying its staff non-union poverty wages.
This is the policy of Governor O'Malley, Lt. Gov Anthony Brown, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, and City Council President Jack Young. Your city council member voted for this as well. THESE POLITICIANS ARE DELIBERATELY MAKING YOUR LIFE HARDER IN ORDER TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR THE AFFLUENT. THEY ARE NOT WORKING FOR THE MIDDLE/LOWER CLASS!
Baltimore gets stranded Our view: Maryland lawmakers need to add another item to any special session agenda — killing a proposed 40 percent transit fare hike
11:43 a.m. EDT, April 16, 2012 Baltimore Sun
As long as the General Assembly's top leaders are planning a special session to pick up the state's budget where last they left it, here's another item to add to the agenda: No MTA fare hike unless it's part of a broader agenda to revive the financially-depleted Transportation Trust Fund. Little noticed in all the debate in Annapolis over spending cuts and new taxes was an instruction added to what's known as the BRFA (the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act), the bill that each year accompanies the budget, that requires the Maryland Transit Administration to raise fares on bus, light rail and subway services every two years to meet a 35 percent farebox recovery rate and keep up with the Consumer Price Index. The BRFA did not pass. It died in the waning hours of the 90-day session along with the Fiscal 2013 tax bill, a failure that triggered the so-called "doomsday" budget that lawmakers are now scrambling to avoid. But if the House and Senate reconvene in special session — a near-certainty in the coming weeks once the two chambers work out their differences to the satisfaction of Gov.Martin O'Malley— the BRFA is likely to be resurrected, too, and that language included.
If so, that would be an outrageous assault on Baltimore and its most vulnerable citizens. Forcing higher fares on bus riders in particular at a time when city unemployment rates remain unacceptably high (10.3 percent as of February) could cause considerable financial hardship. What's truly shocking about the move, however, is that lawmakers would not even consider raising other forms of transportation-related revenue. Governor O'Malley's proposal to apply the state's 6 percent sales tax to gasoline couldn't even get a committee vote. Nor were legislators willing to pursue alternatives to rescue the trust fund. Make no mistake, MTA fares will have to be increased in the near-future by some incremental amount. The city's $1.60 bus fare lags behind its peers and was last increased duringRobert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s term as governor. But to meet the arbitrary 35 percent recovery rate, the fare would have to be raised to $2.25. How could the legislature willingly hit low-income riders so hard while totally ignoring the fact that Maryland's gas tax hasn't been raised since 1992? Whether they ride in a limousine or a jalopy, Maryland motorists have been living well on 20-year-old tax rates. If only transit fares had received similar treatment, Baltimore residents could claim the cheapest bus and train service in the country. Frankly, we've always found the 35 percent recovery rate a foolish benchmark. It's mostly a sop to rural lawmakers who opposed city transit projects a generation ago. Such bean-counting fails to consider the social good that even a little-used transit line does if it connects a poor and isolated community to jobs and basic services. Maryland may be regarded as among the most progressive states in the country, but you wouldn't know it from the recent machinations in Annapolis. Lawmakers couldn't pull the trigger on a modest increase in the income tax for those earning more than $100,000, but mandating a 40 percent increase in the cost of an MTA fare didn't cause a second thought? Hello? Earth-to-Annapolis: This is not what you do to people living in areas of concentrated poverty while others are getting a free ride. Maryland faces billions of dollars in transportation needs. There isn't enough money in the trust fund to keep up with basic repair and replacement, let alone expand the existing infrastructure to accommodate future growth. City transit riders shouldn't be the first people to make sacrifices to fix that particular problem. Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun
Here is my response: There is a need to audit the Transportation Trust Fund's revenues over this past decade....that is what all this legislative grandstanding is hiding. Just as with the public sector pensions that went unfunded for the same decade or two, these shortfalls need more than a rally for more taxes...we need to know where this money went. An educated guess would lead to the fact that just as these funds were depleted, business tax credits and cuts were increasing. This past decade has seen more money returned to business than any in recent history. The legislators and the Justice Department refuse to investigate these business tax credits for compliance and justification of goals, but watchdog groups have conducted small audits that show most of these tax credits don't meet standards and there is no oversight at all of the process. As someone who rides the public transit frequently, I can say that for well over a year the fare styles on most routes didn't work. Do fixed income people benefit from this if the result is a whopping fare increase? No! As Baltimore builds its network of Circulator bus routes...privately owned with taxpayer money, these downtown routes receive excellent service for free while the extended city service is the worst in the country. Want to control how and where the poor travel? Here you have it.
Task force readies report on Montgomery transit
Posted: 6:30 am Mon, April 23, 2012
By Associated Press ROCKVILLE --
A Montgomery County task force says a rapid bus network there would cost about $1.83 billion to build and another $1.1 million per mile each year to operate. The Washington Examiner reports that the Transit Task Force wants the system running in nine years. The panel appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett recommends a “world class,” 161.5-mile bus rapid transit network along 23 major county thoroughfares. It would be built in three phases. The recommendations will be formally presented to Leggett this week. The task force suggests multiple ways to pay for the system. They would include a combination of property taxes and county and state contributions. The task force does not recommend trying to get federal funding, but it does suggest getting private partners to help raise money.
Here is a world-class rapid bus system in wealthy Montgomery County being made public/private and it is almost a sure thing that O'Malley was pushing the 6 cent gas hike to pay for the state's commitment to high-speed rail (or that is where the depleted transportation trust went). Remember that tax revenues are fenced to stay in the county, that is why Montgomery can raise all this revenue. Travelling one end of Baltimore to the other on public transportation?-----better leave 2-3 hour window....the same amount of time the high-speed rail will take the rich from Washington DC to Boston. All of which benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle/lower class.
TIME TO CHANGE POLITICIANS ------VOTE FOR REAL PROGRESSIVES!