Testimony on HB0271 – Maryland Transit Administration – Farebox Recovery, Goals, and Performance Indicators

Improving public transportation plays a key role in developing a 21st century transportation for the state. Unfortunately, current law impedes the Maryland Transit Administration from being able to adjust to the challenges of the 21st Century. This bill aims to fix that.

Maryland PIRG is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group that takes on powerful interests, working to win concrete results for our health and well-being on behalf of thousands of members across the state.

Consider this: Maryland has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country; our transportation system produces more than 30% of the country’s carbon emissions; research shows people are increasingly looking for ways to get around without a car.

It’s time to build a transportation system that improves air quality, reduces carbon pollution, and empowers Marylanders to travel by rail, bus, bike, and foot.

Improving public transportation plays a key role in developing a 21st century transportation for the state. Unfortunately, current law impedes the Maryland Transit Administration from being able to adjust to the challenges of the 21st Century. This bill aims to fix that.

HB271 repeals a mandate that the Maryland Transit Authority must cover 35% of operating costs from fares and replaces it with true performance metrics to help ensure that MTA becomes more reliable and efficient.

Unfortunately, the 35% farebox recovery requirements imposed by current law often drive MTA’s planning process. It acts as disincentives to expand services and invest in maintenance, cleaning and training operators, all of which would otherwise have beneficial impact for the traveling public, the environment, and the economy. Farebox recovery is a purely financial measurement that has no link to the operational efficiency or effectiveness of the service.

By repealing and replacing the mandate with performance metrics we can build a more efficient and better performing transit system.
Public transportation offers significant benefits to the region and the farebox recovery mandate threatens the region’s ability to offer affordable, reliable public transportation to all sectors of society.
We urge a favorable report on HB271.

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Authors

Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.

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