In a Thursday afternoon hearing of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Senator Jill Carter (District 41 – Baltimore City) detailed her legislation (Senate Bill 630) that would authorize the Maryland General Assembly to contract with a transportation consultant to study the feasibility of establishing a regional transportation authority in the State and surrounding areas.
Following the cancellation of the Red Line Project along with other metro, subway, and light rail difficulties encountered by residents in Baltimore City, Carter cited the necessity of transportation equity as she explained the legislation. According to analysis of the bill from the non-partisan Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the study authorized in the bill must define regional transportation authority, study regional transportation authorities in the United States, review the range of powers granted to regional transportation authorities by legislatures, review transit-oriented development strategies adopted by regional transportation authorities, determine the geographical boundaries of a potential regional transportation authority that would operate in Maryland, and more.
Following the testimony from Senator Carter were supportive statements from multiple transportation, social justice, and environmental advocacy organizations including the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, and the Sierra Club of Maryland. Noting the importance of localizing transit policy and planning, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance President Brian O’Malley stated: “The regional level is where transit is lived and experienced.”
Senator Carter is joined in sponsorship of the legislation by Delegate Tony Bridges (District 41 – Baltimore City). Delegate Bridges cross-filed legislation (House Bill 771) is cosponsored by twenty-one cosponsors in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Having been heard on February 27th, Senate Bill 630 now awaits a vote of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. House Bill 771 was heard before the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 28th and similarly awaits a vote from that panel. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.