Howard Seeks To Improve Regional Transit System

The Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland plans to add new buses to its transit system serving Howard, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and the City of Laurel, reports Mass Transit MagazineThe $2.5 million, 10-year lease-to-purchase contract would serve to replace aging buses from the late 1990s and 2000s which have long surpassed mileage thresholds and are driving up maintenance costs. From Mass Transit Magazine:

[Howard County Executive Allan] Kittleman is proposing to purchase seven EZ Rider buses by ElDorado, a company based in Riverside, Calif., through a cooperative purchasing program. The county can enter the program through an agreement under the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a nonprofit organization of regional county executives Kittleman began chairing last month.

If approved by the County Council in March, the buses, which seat up to 33 passengers, could hit the streets by the end of 2017. Kittleman needs the Council’s approval because the agreement covers appropriations over a decade.

Searching for funding in the budget for transportation priorities is a major challenge, according to county officials. …

A draft county budget for next year includes around $4 million for another 10 buses to replace aging buses. Around $79,000 will come from Anne Arundel County, $45,000 from Prince George’s County and $278,000 from Howard County in the next fiscal year.

This spring, the county’s transportation office plans to identify gaps and underserved areas in the transit system as part of a five-year plan required by the state. The plan, last completed in 2009, is two years overdue because of limited state funding to finance the study.

[Howard County Transportation Director Clive] Graham hopes to shift the system from “one of last resort to one of choice.”