More On The Annapolis to Baltimore Bus Service...or lack thereof ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More On The Annapolis to Baltimore Bus Service...or lack thereof

On Friday, August 14 (see post below) I wrote to local and state elected officials asking for their support in reinstating commuter, express bus service between Annapolis and Baltimore. Quickly I received replies from House Speaker Busch, Delegate Ron George, County Councilman Josh Cohen and Alderman Sam Shropshire.

Delegate Virginia Clagett had been supportive and was in touch with me and the MTA but I have not yet heard back from her in reply to the letter of August 14.

Delegate George's office has been supportive of this proposal and I have been communicating with him on other transportation issues as well. here is the reply from his office:

"Your letter re bus transit from Annap to Balt was a good one. Clear and informative. Ron is interested in this - just needs to decide what to focus on!"

Speaker Busch sent an insubstantial form email response. Alderman Shropshire, who has worked to develop rail service but has seemed to not understand that buses need to come first, did reply positively:

"Thanks for this encouraging message!"

Hmmm. So I wrote back on August 16:

"Will you work with Virginia [Del. Clagett]and ask her to take the lead on this? Will you work with me to invite elected officials to take the MTA 14 to Baltimore one day and see how slow it is?I remember our bus ride together and I also took Ross [Alderman Arnett]on a similar ride. Will you and he take the lead in shaking things up at Annapolis Transit? Transportation in a basic human need and the lack of concern and the mismanagement is unacceptable."

As of today, August 25, there was no reply, so I have again written to Alderman Shropshire.

Finally, former Alderman and now County Councilman Josh Cohen wrote the most substantive reply and is taking action:

"As you know, I agree with you that we need to significantly enhance commuter service to Balto and D.C. It makes sense for so many reasons, and the rise in gas prices is certainly a motivating factor.

I've been in touch with John Sarbanes' office and Virginia Clagett, both of whom see the value in it and are supportive. It is on the radar screens of several key leaders and I am grateful for your efforts with keeping the issue in the forefront. Unfortunately my understanding is that a federal fix to the transit funding formula is unlikely until Congress takes up the omnibus reauthorization in a couple years. The
state funding issue should be a much simpler fix but of course it comes down to money. It is a challenge for the state to add any new services when it is struggling simply to maintain its existing levels of service. But I will continue to push for it and will send a letter to the Gov."

CP wrote back to Josh and thanked him but suggested another approach:

"Thanks very much. I know the challenges to do this, and I appreciate that you will send a letter to the Governor, but I suggest that you and District 30 do this together--and do it not simply as a District 30 need, but based on the fact that I outlined---the state capital has no commuter service to the state's largest city--but 25 miles away-- and all this with a state-run system in place!

And here is a real idea if you really want to make some news--and I'll do it. Invite your colleagues and the District 30 delegation and the Governor to try taking the MTA 14 one morning from Annapolis to Baltimore. When you see how slow and inconvenient it is.......

We are not necessarily talking about NEW money, but we may be. We are talking about reordering existing routes and maybe switching some money around. As for federal dollars, that may or may not be the big factor. Really it is state dollars and MTA spending that is the big challenge, and this is where our delegation comes in. They can work with the Governor and MTA to make it happen.

I am hoping that Virginia will continue to take the lead on this, and perhaps you can encourage her. I have spoken with Ron G. as well. But, until elected officials take the bus and really understand what it's about, I don't have much hope."

Do you want to see commuter express bus service restored between Baltimore and Annapolis? Please write to Governor O'Malley and the District 30 Delegation. And if I do get a substantive reply from Speaker Busch or Senator Astle or others, I'll let you know.

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