The Baltimore region’s business community has long identified public transportation as a crucial component of our region’s economic competitiveness. A world-class transit system bolsters inclusive economic growth, ensures access to opportunity and attracts top talent to the region. That’s why it’s so important that we celebrate the action taken by the Moore-Miller administration and the Maryland General Assembly this session to make smart, fiscally responsible investments in our region’s transit.

This kind of progress for transit in the region represents a break with the past. For decades, transit has not been properly prioritized, and we’ve missed major opportunities, as with the 2015 cancellation of the Red Line.

Major transportation investments in the U.S. demand strong partnerships with the private sector and require long-term commitment to see projects and investments come to fruition. Meaningful investments and improvements in public transit are as critical to business and economic development as are expansions in air travel, freight and export infrastructure, and highway construction.

To meet this need, the Greater Baltimore Committee and Greater Washington Partnership established the Baltimore’s Transit Future coalition — now supported by more than 70 businesses and anchor institutions — to join our public and civic sector partners in elevating the priority transit receives.

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Last year, when changing economic and funding forecasts indicated severe cuts to critical transportation services, our coalition was able to jump into action and make clear that allowing these cuts to stand would jeopardize the Baltimore Region’s economic momentum at a critical time. We asked the Moore-Miller administration and the Maryland General Assembly to roll up their sleeves and make smart, fiscally responsible investments in our region’s transit, and they did just that.

As a result of their work, the 2024 legislative session has ended as one of the best for Baltimore’s transit in recent memory. A package of sensible new revenue sources — including weight-based vehicle registration fee increases, a new transportation network company impact fee and increased highway work zone fines, among other items — will increase Maryland’s transportation funding by $250 million to $350 million per year. This will immediately reverse cuts to critical aspects of Baltimore’s transit, roadways and infrastructure.

And as we celebrate this victory, we also join our public sector leaders in recognizing that the work is far from over. Maryland continues to face a multibillion-dollar near-term transportation shortfall even before budgeting for new investments like the Red Line. For the balance of this year, in advance of the 2025 Legislative Session, we must have a thorough, public conversation to consider our investment priorities and possibilities for additional funding, including through the mechanism of the state’s Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs Commission.

Baltimore’s business community stands ready to join our public and civic sector partners in leading this conversation. With the 2024 legislative session’s process and outcome as an example, we are encouraged and confident that together we will come to the right result.

Mark Anthony Thomas is CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. Kathy E. Hollinger is CEO of the Greater Washington Partnership.

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