Independent studies consistently rate our region’s traffic among the worst in the country, with local drivers sitting in traffic twice as long as the national average. But traffic is about more than our frustration commuting to work each day. Our County’s economic plan relies on Metro (Bus, MetroAccess for the disabled, and rail). With over 50% of our land set aside as protected green space (the Ag Reserve and parks) and another 40% of land set aside for single-family homes, new businesses and residents need to be near Metro stations. Even new development not planned around Metro stations assumes access to rapid transit to and from those stations. The Red Line is truly the double economic spine of Montgomery County.
Thousands of people ride the Metro each day, with approximately 35,000 people boarding at District 16 Red Line stations alone. Metro is not just important for these riders, but also reduces traffic for those driving to work and for our future economic prosperity. But both in reality and perception, Metro is struggling. Maryland contributes approximately $450 million in taxpayer funds to Metro each year so we have an important role to play in improving Metro.
Marc brought renewed attention to Metro in Annapolis. He co-founded the WMATA-Metro Work Group—a group of legislators committed to supporting and improving Metro and doing the ongoing work of providing increased oversight of Metro. He also passed legislation (HB 300) which studies Metro ridership in Maryland to help improve state policy decision-making. The first report was released in 2015 and it will be updated every five years. Marc also recognizes that Metro is one of the only mass transit systems in the country without a dedicated funding source. No transit system can survive on fares alone and Metro is no different. In the long-term, a regional dedicated funding source must be found. Finally, Marc is working with legislators from around the region on a new safety oversight commission—fulfilling a federal requirement for Metro,
Marc supports important new transportation projects such as BRAC improvements around the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda and the Purple Line—which is now going forward but requires close oversight because of its complicated financing structure. These projects must be funded and move forward in an environmentally sensitive way. In particular, the Purple Line will mean fewer cars on the road and will intersect three Metro lines, greatly increasing access to mass transit for those not commuting in and out of Washington, DC each day.
Marc also supports funding to maintain and improve the existing transportation network. From structural bridge repairs to filling potholes, Maryland has neglected its transportation infrastructure for far too long. The state and local projects backlog is in the tens of billions of dollars. Marc supports restoring Highway User Revenue, the local share of the state gas tax, to pre-recession levels to help pay for basic road maintenance and has supported multiple increases in funding the program since starting in Annapolis. Marc also voted in favor of legislation to require that transportation projects be scored in a transparent matter to make sure transportation dollars are being appropriately spent.