Baltimore In Transit: An Introduction

Baltimore In Transit: An Introduction

Considering the steadily rising prices of gas and the alarming warnings of several politicians and scientists alike about an imminent global catastrophe that is all-but-certain without major reductions in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions (but mostly, the gas prices), it is absolutely bewildering that public transportation is not a major issue on the national stage this election season. While the major candidates vie for the sparkling “most electable” tiara of their respective parties, the issues are continually dwindled and trivialized. Transportation is perhaps the most important of these issues that is routinely omitted from any discourse – both among the major party candidates (with a few notable exceptions we won’t list here) and in the media. At a local level, at least, transportation gets a little bit more press. Especially in cities, where there is a denser and more socio-economically diverse population and more congestion, public transportation becomes a central issue. Baltimore is no exception, and with its history of segregation, sprawl, and post-industrial decay, our city faces often overwhelming transportation challenges. In this issue we address several of these challenges and, to the best of our ability, attempt to provide possible solutions and steps that we as citizens can take to effect real change in our city. Babatunde Salaam, a student of Baltimore City College and a member of the Kids on the Hill program, gives us a perspective (a few of them, actually) on being a young person riding the MTA buses. Curtis Price echoes these perspectives by analyzing buses as transformative social spaces where cultures collide: “rolling theaters,” as he aptly describes them. With the situation on the buses in better light, we offer an example of a Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles, positing it as a model that Baltimoreans might well want to adopt. In a departure from the perspectives on public transit, Sean Stewart then gives us an account of what it’s like to be a Baltimore City bike rider. Turning from existing modes of transportation to proposed ones, Danyell Diggs provides an overview of the Baltimore’s proposed Red Line project while Gerald Neily looks critically at the plan and offers insightful suggestions on how to improve its effectiveness. In addition, Art Cohen addresses the rising needs of the growing transit-dependent population in Baltimore by appealing to the Baltimore City Comprehensive Master Plan, urging that City and state leaders support the plan with greater energy, cooperation, and funding. We hope that these views on transportation inform you and inspire you to get involved, either by using more public transport, joining groups to advocate for better services, attending meetings where proposals such as the Red Line are discussed, or even simply riding your bike more often instead of driving. For any of these actions – or any others that you might imagine – educating yourself is the first step, and we hope that the perspectives offered in this issue help you on your way to doing just that.