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Judging transit's performance

Judging transit's performance

Maryland's farebox recovery rule may be one of the most arbitrary and ineffective mandates in state transportation law. In simple terms, it requires the Maryland Transit Administration to recover at least 35 percent of its total operating costs from fares and other operating revenues. Why 35 percent and not 25 or 30 or 37.5? There isn't any real rationale.

The point of the mandate has been mostly to cap state spending on bus, subway and light rail service in the Baltimore area. It dates to an era when rural lawmakers worried that Baltimore, with all its population and political clout, could overwhelm transportation spending — grabbing Transportation Trust Fund revenue that might...