Baltimore City resident Barbara C. recently sent us this story related to what she sees as “transit inequity” in the MTA Local Bus System. We gather she heard the LINES episode about transportation “Getting to Work.”
“This is a very timely and urgent topic because of the newly passed bill for increased transportation funding.
I am a local bus rider. In cosmopolitan cities like New York, London, and Chicago, the buses are used by a cross-section of the population to get to areas not reachable by light rail or metro. People travel on the web of connected transit routes that make getting around the city possible, while cutting air and water pollution by taking cars off the roads. They view the transit as ONE SYSTEM where riders move from one mode to another -- not one system for US and one system for THEM.
In Baltimore, the buses are primarily used by the poor, the elderly, and the handicapped. The preponderance of riders are people of color. There is a stigma attached to local buses. Drivers don't consider using the bus, thus they never learn where the routes go and how to use them. They have a choice and they choose their cars.
Most bus riders have no choice --- they must put up with an often unreliable, overcrowded, and inconvenient system. Being poor, old, and handicapped, they have no political voice to demand the share of transportation funding needed to make it a first class system. Who will advocate for bus riders?
I hear of many transit groups seeking a portion of the state funds for new and improved Metro, light rail, MARC train, and commuter bus lines. That may help more affluent people get into and out of the City but it won't create the equitable, efficient, inter-connected transit web the region needs. It will only worsen "the lines between us".
I think an educational campaign entitled "Go Green - Go Bus" should be mounted! Get people out of their cars and walking more, eliminate need for more parking lots, cut back on traffic congestion and air pollution, and PAINT THE BUSES A BEAUTIFUL EMERALD GREEN to remind everyone that each of us can contribute to a cleaner and more equitable planet.
I hope your staff will explore all these issues and add this topic to the excellent series you've been presenting.
Thank you, Barbara C.”
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