Lessons from Maryland: Half of Gas Tax Increase Will Go to Transit

Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Democrats who just can’t lose are going to spend $650 million on transit – over half of the revenue they’ll collect from the gas tax increase. This is how it should be:

After the governor signed the bill, his office released a list of “first round” projects that will get some of the increased revenues. This list totals $1.2 billion, but over the first 6 years, the tax should generate $4.4 billion.

Of the $1.2 billion, $650 million (54%) will go to transit. However, a large portion of that funds studies rather than actual construction. Money will go to MARC to add weekend service on the Penn Line and 2 new weekday roundtrips on the Camden Line, and to purchase new locomotives.

Obviously Maryland is a smaller state than Pennsylvania, but considering that over 70% of PA’s GDP comes from the 5 largest metro areas – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg and Scranton – it’s only fair that they should get the vast bulk of the transportation funding, with much of that going to transit. The places where most people live, which are also the places that contribute the most revenue to the state budget, should get the most money.

The two largest economies – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – should be getting way more transit funding than what’s been proposed. Out of the $2.5 billion, the Senate Republicans make every transit agency in PA share just $500 million.  Versus $650 million for Maryland transit agencies.


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