Nancy and Pat support a variety of transit options that allow for innovation and flexibility in our new, all-electric transit grid. We support evolving our communities to safe, walkable neighborhoods that provide most services and products within walking distance. Bicycles including electric bicycles, tricycle carts for the elderly, tree-lined walking paths for pedestrians, and small-scale, frequent public transit create safe, sustainable communities that are pleasant and human-centered.
We and the Green Party support a transportation policy that emphasizes the use of mass transit and alternatives to the automobile and truck for transport. We call for major public investment in mass transportation, so that such systems are cheap or free to the public and are safe, accessible, and easily understandable to first-time users. We need ecologically sound forms of transportation that minimize pollution and maximize efficiency.
We and the Green Party support the proposed Baltimore Regional Transportation Authority (BRTA) that can finish the Red Line Light Rail system, and the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition that is fighting for this light rail. The transportation service currently offered is concentrated in mostly white and affluent neighborhoods while many low-income communities of color in east and west Baltimore have barely any service at all. Car-centered systems exacerbate many of the problems these communities already face, making it harder to access the jobs, health services, and clean air that folks need to live.
Surfaces impermeable to rainwater, polluted storm run-off; paved over or polluted wetlands, the heat island effect, air pollution, and acid rain are all directly related to a transportation system run amuck.
Massive subsidies to the auto and fossil fuel industries through highways as well as an unworkable approach by urban planners maintain the auto’s dominance of our cityscapes and inherited patterns of disadvantaged, Black and minority transit deserts . The present-day approach of upgrading streets to accommodate increased traffic generates new traffic because access is now easier, and people will now take jobs further from their homes or purchase homes further from their jobs. Some people shift from public transit to private cars due to the trip time in cars being shorter. As patronage for public transit decreases, public transit loses funding, becomes less viable, and service deteriorates thus encouraging even more people to use their cars.
To counteract these trends and reduce auto use, we advocate the following strategies:
- Make streets, neighborhoods and commercial districts more pedestrian friendly.
- Increase the greenery of streets, using ecologically appropriate trees that can thrive in an urban environment providing shade, cleaner air, and habitat for birds.
- Utilize traffic-calming methods, where the design of streets promotes safe speeds and safe interaction with pedestrians. Create auto-free zones focused on neighborhood cohesion and shared areas.
- Develop extensive networks of bikeways, bicycle lanes and paths. Include bike racks on all public transit.
- Maintain free community bicycle fleets, and provide necessary support for cyclists.
2. Mass Transit
- Redirect resources that currently go to enhancing auto capacity into expanding human-scale transit options.
- Support diversification of local public transit, such as the flexible jitney model and small busses which respond quickly to demand changes.
- Encourage employer subsidies of transit commuter tickets for employees, funded by government Congestion Management grants.
- Use existing auto infrastructure for transit expansion where possible. Light rail can be established in expressway medians through metropolitan high-density corridors.
- Include land use decisions in transportation issues, with consideration of the need for mass transit to have a market and be viable, and with attention paid to cross-commuting the practice of people commuting to a place where they could and should live.
- Transfer ownership and operation of all intercity railroad trackage currently under control of freight railroads to responsible and adequately funded public agencies, as is done with highways, to provide for efficiency and safety of all rail traffic.
3. Motor Vehicles
- Place a moratorium on highway widening, appropriating funds instead for mass transit and facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Discourage unnecessary auto use by encouraging conversion of urban areas to small walkable neighborhoods with small businesses providing community needs.
- Lead by example, using government procurement to put more electric vehicles and EV charging stations into service.
- Electrify truck stops, freight terminals and loading docks. Enact and enforce anti-idling regulations. Idling engines consume nearly a billion gallons of gasoline and Diesel fuel and emit ten million tons of carbon dioxide annually (2007 data).
- Encourage carpooling programs, telecommuting, and other creative solutions to reduce commuter traffic congestion.
- Remove the worst-polluting vehicles from the road by requiring every vehicle to comply with the emission standards in effect when it was manufactured before issuing or renewing its license. Keeping to the original manufactured emissions level instead of allowing more emissions for older vehicles would save lives in Maryland from the air pollution especially diesel particulate matter from trucks.
4. Air Travel
- Air travel is a major contributor to climate change, and should be reduced to essential travel for emergencies. This is a very difficult personal and cultural shift for people who have had the funds to travel in the past. Much of our vision of “the good life” and retirement involves travel, which has usually involved air travel until now. Indeed, the lure of far-off places has made taking an airplane for a vacation nearly assumed. However, there are alternative ways to travel which are more pleasant, and which make the travel itself into part of the pleasure and adventure of the trip. The travel industry needs to develop low-carbon and eventually no-carbon transportation solutions, and focus on quality of experience instead of distance traveled.
- We support legislation and regulation to further incrementally reduce airplane noise and air pollution, both of which are physically harmful to the health of people living near airports.
- Emphasize the use of light and heavy rail for freight transportation.
We call for incentives to get long-distance truck hauling off of our highways and on to railways. We favor the removal of any administrative impediments to efficient long-haul freight transport by rail. Time is lost when switching goods from one railroad to another, even when the trains are the same size and gauge, and this waste can be eliminated.