Group urges more U.S., Md. funds for transit

The Baltimore Sun

Advocates of public transportation released a report yesterday urging more federal and state spending on rail and bus lines as a way to combat global warming, oil consumption and traffic jams.

The report by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group Foundation said that the Maryland Transit Administration's commuter MARC trains, light rail system and buses save about 36 million gallons of gasoline a year and prevent 245,158 tons of carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions from cars.

Across the country, mass transit saves about 3.4 billion gallons of oil a year, the report says. And less driving means cars don't spew 26 million tons of greenhouse gases, which scientists have concluded cause climate change.

"In the 21st century, we face growing challenges from expensive oil ... and an increasing threat of global warming," said Johanna Neumann, state director of MaryPIRG, during a news conference outside Penn Station in Baltimore. "Rail and bus lines need to be a much larger part of our transportation system."

Maryland is considering at least three major projects that the advocates said need more money. One is construction of a rail Red Line across Baltimore from the Woodlawn area in the west to Fells Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus in the east.

"The Red Line will not only generate jobs, opportunities and economic development, but it will foster community revitalization ... and preserve the environment," said Danyell Diggs, a planning coordinator for the Red Line project who works for the city.

The state and federal governments have budgeted about $240 million for the project -- but that is about a billion dollars short of the money required, Diggs said.

State officials are also discussing an expansion of MARC train service from Baltimore to Washington by adding more stops and perhaps more weekend service. And in the Washington suburbs, the state is considering a 14-mile Purple Line connecting New Carrollton with Bethesda.

tom.pelton@baltsun.com

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