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Baltimore Delegation Members Urge Congressional Leaders to Increase COVID-19 Relief for Public Transit

Aug 3, 2020
Press Release
Members Demand Swift Action to Deliver Critical Financial Support to Maryland Transit Administration Before CARES Act Funding Expires in September

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, and Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) urged Congressional Leaders to provide urgently needed relief for public transit agencies, like the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).

The lawmakers requested an additional $32 billion in funding to help public transit agencies like MTA continue providing essential services to frontline workers. They also asked to improve the funding formula for public transit relief, so that MTA would receive an appropriate share of federal support.

“According to an analysis provided to the Central Maryland Transit Alliance, ‘almost 40% of transit riders in Baltimore are employed in essential services, with hospital and health care workers making up the largest share of those jobs,’” the lawmakers wrote. “Without additional funds from the federal government, MTA will likely be forced to make drastic cuts to service.”

The lawmakers concluded, “Transit is an essential service that local governments continue to provide even when revenues are down. This additional funding will help prevent cuts to service and potential layoffs of local government employees and ensure that essential workers can continue to get to their jobs.”

Senators Van Hollen and Cardin also wrote to Senate leadership urging an additional $32 billion for public transit agencies earlier this month.

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi,

As discussions continue on the next COVID-19 relief package, we write to request that you include $32 billion in additional funding for public transit agencies. While the CARES Act provided short-term relief, in Baltimore the CARES funding will run out in September 2020. The HEROES Act, passed by the House in May, included many critical provisions for American families, but as the pandemic continues, it is clear that the funding level for transit is too low and the distribution mechanism is flawed.

Transit experts have concluded that an additional $32 billion is necessary to sustain operations across the country. And those funds must be equitably distributed. Because of a funding formula in the HEROES Act that is heavily weighted toward the highest population areas, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) would not receive any funding. The Baltimore Urbanized Area is less than 3 million in population (2,203,663), so it would not qualify, despite having ridership in the top 10 per capita in the country for cities with one million residents or higher. Any funding in the next relief package should be distributed in a fair and equitable way that would expand eligibility to more transit agencies throughout the country beyond what the HEROES Act allows. Expanding the recipient pool of these funds will take into account the significant transit ridership levels of mid-size cities like Baltimore, MD.

Baltimore, Maryland is a City that relies on transit. According to an analysis provided to the Central Maryland Transit Alliance, “almost 40% of transit riders in Baltimore are employed in essential services, with hospital and health care workers making up the largest share of those jobs.” Additionally, according to the latest American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, 28.9% of residents do not have access to a vehicle. While ridership is down across all modes of MTA, the State still continues to provide indispensable service for essential workers to travel. Without additional funds from the federal government, MTA will likely be forced to make drastic cuts to service and the capital budget.

Transit is an essential service that local governments continue to provide even when revenues are down. This additional funding will help prevent cuts to service and potential layoffs of local government employees and ensure that essential workers can continue to get to their jobs.

We urge you to support this funding.

Sincerely,