LEGISLATIVE RESPONSE TO HOGAN VETO OF HB 1281: BIKEWAYS FUNDING & TRANSIT PLANNING
Both the greater Washington area and the Baltimore region regularly make the country’s list for most-congested areas. Forty percent of trips that Americans take, however, are within two miles – a 30-minute walk, 10-minute bike ride, or short trip on transit. This year, the Maryland General Assembly acted to pass legislation that would codify and fund our state’s Bikeways Program and ensure that the new MTA Regional Transit Plan will create a system that will meet the needs of all residents who live or work in Central Maryland. Championed by Delegate Brooke Lierman and Senator Jim Rosapepe, this bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. Today, Governor Hogan vetoed the bill.
Maryland’s bikeways infrastructure is vital to the growth and long-term success of our state. The Great Allegheny Trail, the Capital Crescent Trail, the Oxford Loop and more provide tourist attractions and economic development options for counties and municipalities. Our urban bikeways programs ensure alternatives for commuters and take cars off the road, in addition to providing public health benefits to riders and walkers.
The MTA Regional Transit Plan, due in October 2020 and originally mandated in legislation in 2018, will be the first new transit plan for Central Maryland in decades. HB 1281 requires that a goal of the plan is for MTA to provide “reliable and safe public transportation service to enable residents … to access job opportunities.” By vetoing HB 1281, the Governor demonstrates that his Administration does not take the Regional Transit Plan seriously and is not interested in finding transit solutions for companies, workers and residents in Central Maryland.
“I guess the Governor just never saw a gridlocked highway he didn’t like. Otherwise, why would he propose billions of dollars for more gridlocked roads — and veto peanuts for bike paths and regional transit planning? Marylanders are tired of traffic jams. We need to override his veto,” said Senator Jim Rosapepe, sponsor of the cross-filed bill and of many bike and transit bills.
“HB 1281 was unique in that it signaled the General Assembly’s understanding of and investment in multi-modal transportation options – bikes and transit. The Governor’s veto indicates that he and Secretary Rahn are not interested in anything but building more paved highways. Marylanders need and deserve more than that – we must have transportation options,” House sponsor Delegate Brooke Lierman said.
Because Maryland has no mandated funding for bikeways, the lack of certainty regarding whether and how much funding MDOT will provide for bikeways discourages counties from pursuing important projects. This bill remedied that problem by creating a steady funding stream for the Bikeways Network Program. In addition, rejecting amendments that would have clarified and strengthened elements of the new Regional Transit Plan indicates that Governor Hogan and MDOT are not seriously interested in creating a robust transit plan that would allow for an expansion of the light rail, MARC, and bus service that is needed throughout Central Maryland.