Monday, July 13, 2015
Mass transit in Baltimore is part of the problem
Mass transit in Baltimore is part of the problem
Kevin E. Dayhoff July 12, 2015
I am a staunch supporter of public transportation, but Mr. Kelly (Jacques Kelly: Baltimore is not a public transportation town, July 10, 2015 Baltimore Sun,) is so right:
"Right off, I'll say that Gov. Larry Hogan's refusal to back the Red Line plan does not shock me. I thought it was expensive and grandiose, involving the construction of deep tunnels and too much infrastructure. I am sorry that neighborhood leaders feel shortchanged, but it was a good idea that over the years went haywire as it grew more complex. Baltimore is a place where it is best not to apply logic or expect much when it comes to public transit..." [J Kelly: “Baltimore is not a public transportation town:” http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-kelly-column-bus-20150710-column.html]
I have good memories of the trolleys... But I have been all over the world and I have never seen public transportation run worse than the manner in which it is run in Baltimore - and Maryland.
It goes from nowhere to nowhere and the customer service is horrid - you would think it was run by Comcast or Verizon. No wonder it does not enjoy popular support.
To which a reader on Facebook asked a fair question, “So what is a reasonable solution for people in the city who cannot afford a car to get work, hospitals, etc.?”
I am not sure that I know the answer, but I am sure that Facebook is ill-equipped to answer this question in depth.
Eventually many folks who do not like Md. Gov. Larry Hogan will rail about the governor’s decision to stop the politically-created boondoggle, the red line; no matter how the metrics and the merits of the decision indicate that the transit line was ill-conceived from the very beginning. Come a little closer…. The whispers in the hallways of Annapolis are that the red line was essentially conceived as a political bone to throw to the folks who bristled at the idea of the mismanaged but nevertheless widely used and poplar DC metro, getting money for the purple line.
Essentially, the current management of mass transit in the Baltimore area does not meet the needs of Baltimore's workforce and has long-since become part of the problem. Again, be sure to read Mr. Kelly’s article: Jacques Kelly: Baltimore is not a public transportation town, July 10, 2015 Baltimore Sun - http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-kelly-column-bus-20150710-column.html.
Employment and economic opportunities do not widely take into consideration locating in Baltimore, in part, because the transportation system put in place to move employees from where they live to where the jobs are located, does not work. Thus perpetuating an endless vicious cycle.
The previous administration in Annapolis recognized that the Potemkin red line was poorly conceived and kept kicking the can down the road because it recognized the political fallout of stopping the project.
There is a solid reason why the purple line was given the go-ahead and the red line was stopped. The purple line makes sense - if some of the extravagant costs can be contained.
The red line was an imaginary illusionary creature of politics from the very beginning. The purple line was a manifestation of a recognized need that will derive a well-utilized return.
The red line looks great on paper and the rhetoric is utopian and wonderful. In the end, it would not have worked or solved any transportation problems. The red line would have robbed precious taxpayer resources and literally thrown money down a very deep tunnel that went from nowhere to nowhere.
The construction of the project alone would have irreparably damaged the local economy, it was supposed to better, beyond recovery and put countless businesses out of business and put many folks out of work.
The previous administration knew full-well that the red line and mass transit lacked popular support because mass transit in Baltimore and Maryland is so poorly run. It lacks critical popular support - except for political astroturfing.
The more the project was studied in order to avoid stopping it, the more convoluted and complicated - and extraordinarily expensive it became. In the end, no matter the cost, the red line would have served very-very few folks at an untenable cost - that would throttled any other future consideration for re-organizing and revitalizing mass transit for many-many years.
If the red line had been appropriately priced, it might have served well as another spoke in the mass transit wheel. But it was never the silver bullet it has been made out to be in the current rhetoric. Perhaps as a light rail – like the old successful trolley lines? Might have been worth the cost? Maybe?
In the big picture, the red line would have served very little of the folks in the city that "cannot afford a car to get to work, hospitals, etc."
Of course the irony is that the escalating costs of owning a car in Maryland, to help pay for a transit system that does not work, only became part of the problem...
And the red line would have certainly not done a darn thing to help alleviate traffic on the beltway - which, of course, is another manifestation of a failed transit system.
This is not going to get figured-out at our pay grade. It is at times like this that we sorely miss Md. Del. Pete Rawlings… I have a great deal of respect for Congressman Elijah Cummings. I disagree with him on the red line… But wholeheartedly agree with his quote about Del. Rawlings, “A politician worries about the next election. A true statesman worries about the next generation, and children yet unborn, and that was Pete Rawlings." -Congressman Elijah Cummings.
I have close friends, whose opinions that I really respect who very much disagree with me and I respect their thoughtful approach. However too many folks in the know, are well aware that the cost of another much-underutilized Potemkin transit line would bode well in a populist campaign for re-election, but set back transportation in Maryland decades - no matter how high you raised taxes to pay for a line very few folks will use.
The reasonable solution is to be a wise steward of finite resources so that they may be spent in a manner that gets the most folks and workers from point-a, to point-b. Look that up in the dictionary and you will not see a picture of the red line. And this analysis come from someone who is a staunch unrepentant supporter of mass transit and has the scars to prove it. Just saying. We now return to our regularly scheduled program of cat videos and cute pictures of dogs and children.
Kevin Dayhoff Soundtrack: http://kevindayhoff.blogspot.com/ = http://www.kevindayhoff.net/ Kevin Dayhoff Art: http://kevindayhoffart.blogspot.com/ or http://kevindayhoffart.com/ = http://www.kevindayhoff.com/ Kevin Dayhoff Westminster: http://kevindayhoffwestgov-net.blogspot.com/ or http://www.westgov.net/ = www.kevindayhoff.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevindayhoff Twitpic: http://twitpic.com/photos/kevindayhoff Kevin Dayhoff's The New Bedford Herald: http://kbetrue.livejournal.com/ = www.newbedfordherald.net Explore Carroll: www.explorecarroll.com The Tentacle: www.thetentacle.com