Md. governor wraps IT into transit plan
- By Eric Kulisch
- Dec 14, 2000
To help achieve his goal of doubling daily public transit ridership by 2020,
Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening is making information technology a key component
of his six-year, $750 million transit program.
The proposal, announced last week, calls for $50 million to install
smart card technology on bus and rail systems across the state so commuters
can switch systems using a universal prepaid fare card.
The money could help some counties coordinate their purchase of new
bus fareboxes with other communities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan
area. Surrounding jurisdictions have six months to decide whether to piggyback
onto a $20 million contract between the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Authority (Metro) and Cubic Transportation Systems. Under the contract,
announced Thursday, Cubic will install fareboxes that accept smart cards
and cash on 1,443 Metro buses.
Glendening's plan will also devote $53 million to Global Positioning
System-based technology to improve communication with passengers, such as:
* "Talking buses" that automatically announce the next stop and route
to those inside and waiting on the street.
* Kiosks with arrival information at major transit centers.
* Internet enhancements to assist with trip planning.
The proposal needs legislative approval because it reallocates money
from the general fund to the state's Transportation Trust Fund, said Jack
Cahalan, a Maryland Department of Transportation spokesman.
The money for the initiative will come from redirecting an additional
cent of Maryland's corporate income tax ($360 million), 100 percent (up
from 45 percent) of the sales tax on rental cars ($132 million) and collections
at projected new highway toll facilities ($258 million) to the trust fund.
"The problem is that nobody wants to take highway dollars, dedicate
those to transit and do fewer highway projects. So the governor is proposing
a dedicated funding source to expand transit in Maryland," Cahalan said.