Reform for Maryland's Farebox Recovery Mandate Could Change Planning Paradigms

A funding formula that frequently determines the scope and quality of transit in the state of Maryland could be reformed by state legislators this year.
March 16, 2017, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Brian O'Malley reports on legislation in Maryland that would change the funding formula for transit everywhere in the state.

Currently, Maryland transit systems are handcuffed by a requirement that all transit systems pay for at least 35 percent of its operating budget with rider fares—the farebox recovery mandate, to use the technical term. The state's farebox recovery affects "Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) products, like MTA local (aka Baltimore’s bus service) and commuter buses (which primarily serve the District), the three MARC commuter lines, and Baltimore’s Light Rail and Metro subway lines," according to O'Malley.

"The result of complying with this mandate is that MTA regularly has no choice but to refrain from investing in services and maintenance even if those things would grow ridership and revenues over time," according to O'Malley. "In public meetings, MTA officials often cite the farebox recovery mandate as a limiting factor when responding to requests to provide service to growing employment sites or other destinations, like a new Amazon warehouse distribution facility in Baltimore."

In response, two bills are moving through the Maryland State Legislature. House of Delegates Bill 271 and Senate Bill 484 have both passed through committee, with "broad support among central Maryland transit advocates, business leaders and riders," according to O'Malley.

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Published on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 in Greater Greater Washington
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