Maryland Assembly Passes ‘Fair Fares Act’

If signed by the governor, the act will halt a scheduled fare increase previously tied to inflation.

2 minute read

April 19, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

New legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly would prevent a scheduled fare increase for riders on the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) system. Alex Holt describes the law, which heads to Governor Wes Moore’s desk, in Greater Greater Washington.

The Fair Fares Act, passed by the General Assembly on April 5, “uncouples MTA fares from the requirement that they increase with inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index” and “gives the MTA the authority to alter fares, including raising them, as it sees fit — albeit with some conditions, namely first giving public notice and holding a public hearing before making any fare changes.” 

Del. Mark Edelson (D-Baltimore City), who introduced the House bill, said stopping the fare increases raised equity concerns for the majority of MTA riders who depend on transit. “[F]or us to increase fares on these riders, at a time when inflation is already significantly ahead of wage increases, is going to hit them in a terrible way and it’s completely inconsistent with our values of helping lift folks up out of poverty and creating a more reliable transit system that serves everybody.”

Holt explains, “Even if it isn’t quite as dramatic as DC’s fare-free transit proposal, the bill at least starts the conversation about what it might take to get closer to that. It also fuels the discussion about how to fund public transit going forward, and about allowing MTA to follow national trends by experimenting with more flexible pricing arrangements based on factors like income, like the program the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority just adopted.”

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