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GBC, Greater Washington Partnership launch transit campaign

Two business organizations are launching a campaign to promote transportation initiatives aimed at better connecting Baltimore to the surrounding region and at helping people throughout the region access jobs.

The Greater Baltimore Committee and the Greater Washington Partnership will partner on the initiative, called Baltimore’s Transit Future, that will be a central priority for both organizations over the coming year.

The campaign will focus on six key goals related to Baltimore-area transportation: 

  • Addressing the Maryland Transit Administration repair backlog and operator shortage; 
  • Establishing frequent, reliable bus service to all regional job centers; 
  • Supporting regional coordination, decision making and funding;
  • Implementing a 10-year rapid transit program by accelerating MTA studies that are underway; 
  • Prioritizing regional rail investment to connect Baltimore and D.C. to each other, and to the larger region; 
  • And catalyzing equitable development at transit and rail stations.

The GBC and the partnership hope to rally leaders from governments, business, nonprofits and the community around these goals in hopes of securing as much funding for the region from the federal Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. 

“The belief that the partnership came together under is that if we connect the economic centers of Richmond and D.C. and Baltimore, we can create a 21st century infrastructure system. We can grow and attract and retain talent,” said Peter Scher, vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chair of the partnership, which represents the interests of employers from Baltimore to Richmond. 

Strong transit systems can attract workers to a new region, giving the area’s largest employers a “vested interest” in capital improvements to Baltimore’s rail and bus systems, Scher said. 

Arun Subhas, Ernst & Young LLP’s Baltimore Office Managing Partner and a GBC board member, said, similarly, that a lack of reliable access to transportation is a reason many individuals do not join the workforce. 

“Businesses with 24-hour work shifts need better transit systems for their employees, safer environments,” he said. “Service is drastically curtailed on most routes during off-peak hours.”

Many of Baltimore’s buses run no later than midnight.

He noted that improving transit systems is also an issue of equity, as many low-income Baltimoreans rely on public transportation as a way to get to work, go to school, receive health care and more. 

“These communities need and deserve an accessible, affordable, well-networked mass transit system so that our economy can grow, so that day-to-day activities can flourish, so that families can build generational wealth,” he said. 

Baltimore has long come under fire for its transit system, with the city’s residents facing long, complicated commutes and infrastructure issues.

Most recently, Baltimore’s lack of a robust metro system may have played role in FIFA’s decision to pass over Baltimore, in a joint bid with Washington D.C., as a host for the 2026 World Cup, according to local civic and business leaders.