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Maryland’s failure to invest in transit has shortchanged Baltimore students | READER COMMENTARY

Officials ride in on an MTA bus for the opening of the Kirk Avenue Bus Division Transportation and Storage building, which will house and maintain 175 MTA buses Tue., June 15, 2021. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff)
Officials ride in on an MTA bus for the opening of the Kirk Avenue Bus Division Transportation and Storage building, which will house and maintain 175 MTA buses Tue., June 15, 2021. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

Kudos to The Sun editorial board for weighing in on the disgraceful state of Baltimore’s public transportation system — a system that, in addition to its many shortcomings, is failing to get our children to school safely and on time (“Baltimore kids need a more reliable way to get to school,” June 16).

The report referenced in the editorial (“Baltimore students travel to and from schools on a transportation system that wasn’t designed for them. A new report documents their struggles,” June 10), came as no surprise to anyone who relies on public transit for work, medical appointments, grocery shopping and more. The report puts a human face on the results of neglecting this vital part of our region’s infrastructure.

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As chair of Baltimore’s Downtown Residents Advocacy Network, I’ve spent the past year working with a broad coalition of transportation, environmental and business advocates urging legislators to support sufficient funding to address the $2 billion backlog in essential maintenance and enhancements for our buses, light rail, subway and commuter trains. In all, $462 million per year is needed just to meet basic safety requirements. So we rejoiced when the Transportation Safety and Investment Act sponsored by Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Cory McCray, passed the Maryland General Assembly with bipartisan support only to have Gov. Larry Hogan veto it.

In a letter explaining his veto of a different bill that would have allowed remote teaching next year, Governor Hogan said, “As we move forward in our recovery, we must do everything in our power to keep Maryland students healthy, safe and learning.”

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Everything that is, except funding a transit system that would assure our children get to school safely and on time.

Our city and state deserve a world-class public transportation system. We’re counting on the General Assembly to override Mr. Hogan’s veto as an essential step toward creating the public transportation system Maryland residents, businesses and students need for the 21st century.

Paul Sturm, Baltimore

The writer is chair of the Downtown Residents Advocacy Network.

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