Mass transit needed to move workers to jobs

March 13, 1998

THE MARCH 4 editorial page contained an ironic juxtaposition.

At the top was "Wrong way on mass transit" and, separated by another editorial, "Helping the working poor."

The irony is that you physically split two issues that are connected in the real world but are disconnected in Maryland's political world.

"Wrong way" referred to the mass transit fare box recovery mandate for 50 percent of operating expenses. There's been a shortfall, and a $10 million cut is being proposed. This would result in services that are "more unreliable, less convenient and probably more costly."

How will that encourage ridership on an already inadequate and, at the very least, inconvenient system?

"Helping the working poor" discussed a state earned income tax credit (EITC): "Nearly one-quarter of Maryland's poor families with children -- whose incomes are below the federal poverty line of $16,000 -- include a full-time worker."

The Baltimore area has by far the largest number of these families, not to mention poor individuals. How do they get to work? Walking or transit are their option. Where are the new jobs being created? Beyond or on the fringes of existing transit lines.

At a time when welfare reform is demanding that more people get work, the state is considering cutting transit, which will make it harder for them. Maybe the EITC's "few hundred dollars each year" will be put aside for a family car.

The disconnect is with Maryland politicians. They order people to work and at the same time hinder their means of doing so.

Maryland is particularly out of sync.

An article the same day reported that the U.S. Senate was considering adding $5 billion to the mass transit budget.

Could it be the feds see a link between the poor finding jobs and actually being able to get to them?

Richard P. Doran


Pub Date: 3/13/98

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