Counties Push Predictability in Grant Funding for Local Transportation Services

On March 7, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample testified before the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 1125 – Transit – Grant Funding for Local Service – Alterations.

The Senate Rules Committee is due to consider the bill’s cross-file, SB 939, but has set no hearing date as of writing.

HB 1125 puts into statute the Locally Operated Transit System Grant Program (LOTS), which provides counties and municipalities with the requisite funds to support their local transit systems. The bill also requires the State Department of Transportation to adjust annual distributions under LOTS that reflect inflationary trends. In recent years, counties have faced a litany of challenges—heightened by the Coronavirus pandemic and resultant losses in revenue—in their efforts to provide residents with efficient and up-to-date transportation services. HB 1125 represents a welcome investment on the part of the State to better plan for future operations and to ensure continuity of service.

From the MACo Testimony:

Marylanders in every region of the state rely on public transportation systems, supported by the LOTS program, to commute both to and from work as well as within their communities at large. The vast majority of these systems are developed, operated, and maintained by county governments. Following the pandemic, previously predictable revenue streams and ridership rates declined dramatically and have yet to fully stabilize. This, in turn, adds challenges for these local systems, leaving them unable to make multi-year service plans and commitments. HB 1125 seeks to provide predictability for LOTS, both putting the LOTS grant program into statute and by tying future grant distributions to inflation.

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