ANNAPOLIS — Members of the Maryland legislature’s transit caucus announced Wednesday their support for increased transit funding, oversight for public-private partnerships and studies to expand public transit throughout the state as part of the group’s priorities.
This is the transit group’s first year announcing priorities. Although it is not an official legislative caucus, it includes more than 45 members from across the state, and its priorities include transit for southern and western Maryland.
“I think the members of the transit caucus understand that a growing economy depends on a growing transit system,” said Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore and one of the caucus’ leaders. “We need to be focused on moving people and not just cars.”
The transit caucus organized to push an “agenda that would increase funding for and investment for a transit system for decades to come,” she said.
One of the caucus’ priorities includes a bill that would create increased legislative oversight of public-private partnership transportation projects so that they are not “at the whim” of the Board of Public Works, said Del. Jared Solomon, D-Montgomery and that bill’s sponsor.
He said it would increase oversight of significant projects. Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed a highway widening plan for the Washington beltway, a public-private partnership project that would cost between $11 billion and $15 billion, although Solomon’s bill would likely not affect those projects since they are already in progress.
Other priorities announced Wednesday include a bill to improve pedestrian safety; legislation aimed at making the state’s 800-bus fleet all-electric; the completion of environmental studies to create a southern Maryland transit system; and a study into extending MARC service to western Maryland.
Marc Korman, D-Montgomery and a leader of the caucus, said overhauling the bus fleet to include more electric vehicles should be done over time as the state gradually replenishes the fleet. Right now, none of the state’s busses are entirely electric, he said.