Neither O'Malley nor Ehrlich cares about MARC

September 28, 2010

It has been months since the "hell train" incident occurred during the summer in which 900 riders were trapped in a MARC train for over five hours. Gov. Martin O'Malley made the obligatory make-up opportunities, such as like riding on the MARC train days after the incident talking to people. MTA and MARC made certain arrangements to prevent similar situations from happening again. The real problem is that these actors have not made an effort to resolve the root cause of the hell train incident.

MARC, and in general public transportation, affects thousands of people who commute into Washington and Baltimore, and those who don't have or unable to afford or unable to drive for whatever reason. So I wanted to know myself if the candidates for the 2010 governor's race actually do care, so I checked out each of the candidates' websites.

Mr. O'Malley does have an "issues" page. The website has a link to public transportation. On that page, while Mr. O'Malley has criticized Republican Bob Ehrlich for his efforts to dismantle the already weak public transit systems in Baltimore (which was true), what Mr. O'Malley has to offer in his campaign website makes no effort to make it better. The entire campaign issues portion of the website is nothing but a glorified resume of his accomplishments as governor. There's no single hint of campaign promises or any plans to improve on his opponent on transportation issues, especially MARC rail.

Bob Ehrlich's campaign website is a lot more proactive than Mr. O'Malley's website. This is especially in his transportation page, where he has a lot of ideas to solve Maryland transportation issues, in particular in establishing a public transportation trust fund and fixing transit. However, Mr. Ehrlich does not go into detail on how to improve transit. As a matter of fact, he says nothing about how to improve deteriorating MARC services or to resolve the root causes of all MARC problems.

If Mr. Ehrlich gets elected again, he's going to finish the job of switching from building transit to building more roads. If Mr. O'Malley gets re-elected, he will do little improve the already weak MARC service. It's oxymoronic that the Maryland state government, especially MTA Maryland, promotes green living, yet doesn't make a serious effort to completely transition to green living as a permanent thing and instead builds more roads, which will inevitably be clogged by more cars.

As it stands, neither candidate for governor is saying much about improving MARC at all. While Mr. O'Malley is interested in building the Baltimore Red Line and Metro's Purple Line, he has showed no interest in dealing with MARC. Any solutions that will come from their governorships will be nothing but Band-Aids. For all intents and purposes, the candidates should really tell the public that they don't care about MARC and should tell them to buy a car and join the millions of motorists that will continue to clog the roads Maryland has. No matter whom you vote for this general election in November for governor, you as a MARC rider will lose.

Ndubuisi Okeh, Belcamp

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