Why Transportation Matters
Transportation provides access. While many of us would jump at the chance to be able to leave our home and have all of our needs – work, housing, education, services, and entertainment – within walking distance, the reality is that most of us must rely on other forms of transportation for access to one or more of these elements. Inefficient, unreliable or non-existent transportation options severely limit this access.
The Baltimore region continues to outpace similar metropolitan areas in growth of congestion and Washington, D.C. is Number One in the nation in congestion. The Baltimore metropolitan area is 17th in population but 5th in the average number of hours automobile commuters are delayed during peak periods, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. Baltimore drivers endure an average of 50 hours of delay each year, placing Baltimore behind only Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles and Houston, all much larger metro areas.
Transportation impacts business attraction and retention. Economic development professionals across the region report that the two issues raised by businesses considering expanding or relocating to the region–are transportation and workforce. Employers recognize that inefficient and limited transportation options impact attraction and retention of employees, an impact that translates negatively to their bottom lines.
The last significant expansion of passenger rail in Central Maryland was in 1997, while regions we compete with for business and talent have heavily invested in commuter and light rail over the past decade. We are falling behind and the resulting decrease in quality of life and access to jobs and housing dampens economic growth and vitality.
The average wage earner spends over half of his/her income on housing and transportation costs, and transportation costs are increasing as job growth in Central Maryland has become increasingly decentralized from the urban core. Access to efficient and reliable public transportation will lower household transportation costs by as much as half for transit by choice and transit-dependent residents.
Transportation is a critical factor in efforts to address environmental pollution. Transportation is the fastest-growing source of US Greenhouse Gasses (GHG), and is also the largest end-use source of CO2, which is the most prevalent greenhouse gas. Increased use of public transportation takes vehicles off the road, resulting in decreased oil consumption and air pollution.
Transportation matters. An efficient and interconnected public transit system must be integrated into any expansion of highways in order to produce the multi-modal transportation network that is a catalyst for and supports economic vitality and a high quality of life.