Transit union calls on Hogan, MTA to reconsider bus overhaul

Baltimore's transit union called on Gov. Hogan and the MTA to reconsider the BaltimoreLink bus overhaul.

More than 20 public transportation members of Baltimore's transit workers union and advocates petitioned the Maryland Transit Administration Tuesday to consider alternatives to Gov. Larry Hogan's "BaltimoreLink" bus overhaul plan.

David McClure, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union 1300, which represents more than 1,500 MTA workers, delivered a petition with 600 signatures to the MTA's headquarters on St. Paul Street, calling for the state to invest more money in the city's bus system instead of the system "haircut" MTA officials have described.

The union and its allies released what they called "A People's Plan for Baltimore Transit," which called on Hogan and the MTA to "end their BaltimoreLink charade and fund a true Bus Rapid Transit system," among other actions.

"The problem we have with the BaltimoreLink is that they're telling people they're going to get people across town faster; what they're doing is cutting out stops," McClure said.

Hogan announced the $135 million plan in October 2015 to make the 50-year-old service more efficient and reliable by reducing stops and shortening some bus routes, adding bus-only lanes, installing transit signals and rebranding and replacing bus stop signs.

Elmer Nickens, a Light Rail technician and ATU 1300 member, said the route adjustments are going to make commuting more difficult for a number of people in the city.

Nickens said he's also nervous that cuts to the service under the new system could mean job losses for his fellow union members.

MTA Senior Director Ryan Nawrocki noted that the BaltimoreLink program has yet to be fully implemented and called the union's response "irrational."

"BaltimoreLink hasn't been fully implemented and it is completely irrational and rather odd for the union to preemptively declare their refusal to collaborate on this transformative transit system that will positively benefit so many in the Baltimore area," Nawrocki said in a statement.

The new routes are scheduled to take effect in June.

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