sschelle wrote:There doesn't appear to a line item anywhere in the State budget for any of this. (we, the State PLAN to spend this much in this fiscal year)
Even more important, there doesn't seem to be a specific appropriation for any of this anywhere (we, the legislature and the governor hereby authorize the MTA to spend $X to do Y project)
Finally, and most importantly, the State is projecting a $1.5 Billion hole in next year's budget with large deficits in the next several years as well.
There's no money!
I'm not sure it's wise to treat the new transportation plan as anything other than an interesting PowerPoint presentation.
I, myself was skeptical about the plan when I didn’t see any dedicated funding; the local media soon noticed this also. But, Governor O’Malley has been promising transportation funding, as well as education, all year and has outlined at least $300 million for transit projects in his budget proposal (which is also supposed to eliminate the $1.5 billion deficit). Another thing that convinced me that the plan is possible is that it is spread out over nearly 30 years, altthough something over such a large window does have negative points as well. Unless transportation becomes the highest priority in Maryland each year for the next 30 years, which is unrealistic, the expansion is almost guaranteed not to be carried out in the way stated in the plan. Another factor is the state administration which will turn over many times in the next 30 years. If a Republican, or maybe even another Democrat becomes governor with a different agenda, it is definitely not a given that the plan will be carried out.
From the MARC rider’s point of view it is best to just focus on changes for the next 15 years, and ignore the rest. MARC isn’t even 30 years old yet, and has not changed drastically since its inception. I, personally think that maybe about a quarter of the tasks in the plan will be carried out, within the time frame. The most likely things to be done are the purchase of new diesels, weekend trains on the Penn Line, and the purchase of new cars. Some of the tasks unlikely to carried out are four tracking MARC’s section of the NEC, and triple tracking the two CSX lines. Something
has to be done though because of the rapidly increasing ridership, the large numbers of riders forced to stand, and most importantly (and the reason that funding is likely) the upcoming BRAC surge in jobs.