Hogan Claims He Hasn’t Heard an Alternative to the Red Line

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Gov.-elect Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov.-elect Boyd Rutherford
Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford

Gov. Larry Hogan ended months of speculation and wrote Baltimore City off the map when he killed the Red Line commuter rail project earlier this month. But that’s not the end of our efforts to read the transit tea leaves. Another period of wondering seems in our future after Hogan told WBAL radio’s C4 show that his administration is working on alternatives to the Red Line.

On the show, Hogan claimed he hasn’t heard any ideas since shelving the $3 billion east-west commuter rail from Woodlawn to Bayview.

“So far we’ve heard a lot of complaints about ‘We didn’t get what we wanted’ . . . but we haven’t heard a single suggestion or an alternative. . . Our department is working on it,” he said, according to the Washington Post.

Maybe Hogan is referring to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s assertion that the city had no Plan B for the Red Line. Being faithful readers of transit news, we’ve seen a couple of alternatives, so let’s quickly review.

For one, Hogan’s lieutenant governor, Boyd Rutherford, suggested that rapid bus service is “the way to go” in Baltimore, according to a Baltimore Business Journal report. Rutherford said he liked the idea because bus routes can be reconfigured.

The Right Rail Coalition has also offered a commuter plan that’s $1 billion and one downtown tunnel cheaper than the Red Line proposal that Hogan nixed. Back in the fall, state reps said Hogan’s people have seen the plan.

Seems like there are a few starting points.

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  1. MTA is a state agency. Its not the cities job to come up with alternatives. Eight alternatives were explored as part of the nearly $300 million spent as part of the federal vetting process. Red Herring plain and simple.

  2. So there has been a 12 year, $288M process to investigate, analyse, and rank 12 separate alternatives from doing nothing, to making efficiency “tweaks” to existing bus service, to SIX different Bus Rapid Transit options (are you listening Boyd?) and 4 Light Rail options.

    The result was, the most cost effective system while providing the ridership throughput desired was option 4C, the plan we currently have.

    Additionally, environmental studies have already been conducted, community buy-in secure and, once the finalization on Federal funding was submitted in 3Q 2015, construction could begin by spring.

    The moment to analyse alternatives is at the beginning of the process, not at the end.

    Here are the alternatives considered:

    Here is the the Evaluation of alternatives:

    Hogan shut down the Red Line website so NO ONE could review these and many other documents related to the project. That way, he could continue to lie to Marylanders.

  3. The Governor must be aware that several alternatives to the Red Line were already explored — and rejected — as part of the original federal vetting process. Those alternatives and their rankings were included in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, which used to be on the Red Line’s project website, but that has been taken down.

    Also — the Right Rail Coalition proposal mentioned here was already vetted in detail by the MTA early last year. I’ve included a link to their report here:


    The Cliffnotes version of the report:

    MTA estimates the cost of the Right Rail Coalition (RRC) Alternative to be up to $1.5 billion more than than RRC’s estimate, not including an additional $300 million for a streetcar system to serve Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton, Canton Crossing and Greektown/Highlandtown. MTA estimates the cost of the RRC Alternative to be $2.6 billion to $3.3 billion compared to the RRC cost estimate of $1.755 billion.

    • No validated travel demand forecast of the RRC is available, but the population within a 1/4-mile radius of the RRC stations is 49% less than the population within the radius of the Red Line stations so MTA expects ridership to be significantly less than the Red Line.

    • Because the RRC Alternative differs substantially from the Red Line alignment several years of engineering would be required to achieve the same level of development as the Red Line. Consequently, the project would forego the current federal funding recommendation of $900 million and would be subject to annual cost escalation of three percent, or $54 million per year.

  4. We need a network, not a line!

    For a fraction of the cost we could overhaul the entire regional bus system including Rapid Bus corridors, regular on-time bus service, and a refillable fare system. This is what cities across the US and the Word generally provide to their citizens. Why not us?

    No one is looking at a system, it is all special interest transportation. Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton… can we be that oblivious the the rest of the city including the 300,000 who don’t have transit choices and for whom an upgrade might make a life altering difference? The current disparity between the wonderful light rail and circulator serving Central Baltimore and the rest of the MTA system is second only to the educational disparities between central Baltimore and the rest of the city.

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