By Greg Pecoraro, Executive Director, BWI Business Partnership

As Maryland’s legislature gets down to business in Annapolis, transportation issues once again are sharply in focus. As the Governor seeks repeal of the transportation scoring bill enacted by the General Assembly last year over his veto, he has announced that many road projects in the State’s Consolidated Transportation program are now in jeopardy. These include projects in the BWI-Fort Meade region including improvements for MD 175, MD 198, MD 295, and MD 32. These projects are critical to providing better access to the region’s major economic engines, as well as allowing for the movements of commuters, goods, and services traveling along the Baltimore Washington corridor. As the region’s leading transportation advocate, the Partnership is working to ensure that these critical projects remain on schedule.

We are again supporting legislation that removes the 35% mandated farebox recovery imposed on the MTA, and replaces it with true performance metrics to help it become more reliable and efficient. The farebox recovery mandate, almost unique to Maryland’s transit system, has been a barrier to investing in the system, as greater investment requires an ever higher return from the farebox. Consequently, there is a disincentive to invest in the existing system, and a huge barrier to develop new services. Alternatively, measuring ridership, on-time performance, proximity to employment, cultural, and commercial venues as well as farebox receipts would help the MTA make its services more beneficial, efficient, and cost effective. It may also create an opportunity to increase the State’s investment in Locally Operated Transit Systems (LOTS).

Some legislators and transportation advocates are also calling for additional growth and investment in the MARC service between Baltimore and Washington on both lines. They are encouraging the MTA to plan more frequent trains on the Penn line, and expand service on the Camden line to run throughout the day in both directions.

The Partnership will be working to encourage policymakers in consider the impact all these improvements would have on our region. The entire Fort Meade/NSA complex and affiliated sites supports 190,000 jobs, generates $26.9 billion in total output and $13 billion in total wages. Additionally, the critical nature of their contribution to the national defense in these times of heightened concerns over cyber security cannot be measured. The total economic impact of BWI Marshall Airport runs to 97,000 jobs and more than $10 billion in personal and business revenues.  Transportation into and through this region is critical to both these facilities, and we will continue our efforts to share this message with decision makers in Annapolis and local governments.