Despite proposed cuts to the Charm City Circulator that appeared to be on the table earlier this year, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake isn’t going to make any final calls on the free bus service before she leaves office later this year.
Rawlings-Blake released a statement saying that the decision on cuts will be up to the next mayor. Earlier this year, SRB’s administration proposed cutting routes that run to Fort McHenry (Banner Route), Fells Point and Johns Hopkins Hospital (Green Route) and an extension of the Purple Route between Penn Station and Hopkins’ Homewood campus. The Banner Route was threatened last year, the Purple Route extension was just implemented a year ago. A budget shortfall was the reason for the proposed cuts.
The mayor said she proposed a parking tax increase to make up the shortfall, but the Council hasn’t acted on the proposals. Additionally, she said, a new Circulator contract is currently being negotiated. Still, it’s “likely” that cuts will be required.
“Once the contract bid process is complete, we will know the actual cost to operate the service over the next several years. While service reductions are likely, it would be premature to make a decision on revamping the Circulator service until the bid process is completed,” Rawlings-Blake said.
She said she would recommend that the next mayor should coordinate with MTA, which is getting set to implement BaltimoreLINK.
“Since announcing the proposed service cuts to the Circulator, I have heard from passionate residents who want to keep the current Charm City Circulator system intact. I am proud of the service the Charm City Circulator provides and understand the concerns of the community if service must be cut,” the mayor said.
Stephen Babcock is an associate editor with Baltimore Fishbowl.