The session was a one in a series of summer study efforts to explore the performance of MTA, a debate that began when Delegate Brooke Lierman introduced a bill to create a MTA Oversight Board, a bill that was sent to further study.
So what is transit performance: Ridership, schedule adherence, fair box recovery? Opinions of the about 120 people in the room varied but there was agreement that current MTA performance is not good enough and also that the above metrics hardly describe what is on people's mind, or better, what matters to them when it comes to transit. But there was energy, not least because the new MTA Administrator communicated a high level of energy and a strong desire to change the MTA.
At a time in which the new Governor has taken transit in large part off the table by reassigning almost all the available funds to roads, people like Paul Comfort have to take the coals out of the fire.
He does it with aplomb. Although he doesn't have any additional funds at this point, he knows that once he has a plan he will also get some money. It is widely understood that sometjing has to happen in metropolitan Baltimore to make transit a better option. And the Governor now "owns" the MTA. Thus, Comfort effortlessly says sentences like:
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
From the MDOT website about the sessions:
Ensuring that Maryland’s transit system is safe, efficient, and sustainable is a top priority for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). During the 2015 Session of the General Assembly, various committees discussed opportunities to improve the services offered by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). In addition to legislative proposals, budget language was included as part of the FY 2015 operating budget that directed the MTA to develop a Transit Performance Improvement Plan. To develop that plan and to ensure that the concerns and recommendations of MTA’s stakeholders are heard, understood, and implemented where appropriate, MDOT will be convening an MTA Stakeholder Work Group to hear from business and organizational interests as well as from transit users. Over the course of the summer and early fall, this group will make recommendations to improve MTA services, which will inform the Transit Performance Improvement Plan.
Transit Performance: The Committees are concerned about the performance measures reported by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) with the fiscal 2016 budget that shows a decline in ridership in fiscal 2014, core bus on-time performance not meeting the established goal for the past three years, and farebox recovery rates below the level mandated in State law. By July 1, 2015, MTA should post in its website a transit performance improvement plan indicating how these issues are to be remedied. Further, MTA should post on its website quarterly updates beginning October 1, 2015, indicating the specific actions taken and progress made in implementing the improvement plan.