NOT IN SERVICE: Why Public Transit Must Aim to Serve Students
A Report from the Fund for Educational Excellence
Getting Involved in Transportation Advocacy
1. Check out the Maryland Education Candidates Gubernatorial Forum. In June 2022, we partnered with Baltimoreans for Educational Equity (BEE) to host a gubernatorial candidate forum focused on public education.
2. Watch the Maryland Gubernatorial Transportation Forum: Hear from leading gubernatorial candidates about their visions for Maryland’s transportation future.
3. Watch Not In Service: A Community Convening. Panelists shared the transit challenges faced by Baltimore City Public Schools students and discussed ways to support current transit legislation and how to advance transit equity.
4. Listen to Transportation: The Problem with Getting to School. The Fund joined the Teachers’ Democracy Project on their weekly parent power podcast, for a conversation about the challenges of getting kids to school.
HB 1055 – Will create a workgroup to explore innovative solutions to address student concerns with transit frequency and reliability which include additions to the fleet and bus driver increases.
HB 1056/SB 862– Provides free ridership for eligible Baltimore City Public School students during certain hours and for specific activities. Youthworkers will be able to ride transit for free and physical one-cards will be transitioned to the charmpass app. It also removes the sunset clause from the legislation which would allow for students to ride free in perpetuity. This bill is awaiting a signature from the Governor.
HB 53 – Prohibits private vehicles from driving in dedicated bus lanes and allocates penalties to infrastructure improvements that would improve bus frequency and reliability. This was passed and approved by the Governor!
HB 1336 – Establishes the Greater Baltimore Transit Governance and Funding Commission to study and make findings and recommendations relating to the funding, governance, and performance of mass transit in the greater Baltimore region. This was vetoed by the Governor. The Transform Maryland Transportation Coalition is working to create a commission under another auspices and advocating for a special session to override this veto.
NOT IN SERVICE: Why Public Transit Must Aim To Serve Students examines how students experience public transportation in Baltimore and the implications that experience has for their education, employment and other opportunities. In Baltimore, students going to school, extracurriculars, internships, and jobs face a consistent barrier: an inadequate transportation system. In one-on-one interviews, 274 current students reported long, multi-trip commutes, late arrivals, safety concerns, and more. The report offers recommendations - many directly from students - for improvements to accommodate their needs and reverse the ongoing patterns of discriminatory disinvestment in Black and Brown communities. NOT IN SERVICE examines that history of disinvestment and, through individual student stories, illustrates its real-world impact as seen in the state of public transportation in Baltimore City. Read the full report, here.
Main Themes and Findings:
Lost learning time: Students cite unreliable public transportation as the primary reason for being late to school; which for some happens up to three times a week.
Missed opportunities: The unreliability of buses and the limited hours that student passes are accepted, prevent students from fully participating in after-school activities such as sports and clubs, internships, and jobs that help support their families.
Student safety: Students are often uncomfortable during their trip to school. Arguments and fights between adult passengers are a regular feature of students’ commutes, and sexual harassment is not infrequent.
Consider students: The MTA should consider the needs of student riders when planning regular bus service, including where students live, where schools are located, and school schedules.
Make rides free: City Schools students should have unlimited, free MTA access to get to school, after-school programs, internships, and jobs.
Increase frequency: Buses should run more frequently at times when students take them.
Combat Harassment: The MTA and Baltimore City should develop a joint initiative to combat sexual harassment and crime on and around public transit.
Red Line: Maryland should reactivate Red Line development to expand transportation options and efficiency to serve all Baltimore residents and students.
Experience Imani’s commute to Western High School on MTA buses in this documentary. Inconsistent public transit limited her ability to participate in extracurricular activities and often caused her to lose valuable in-class learning time because of frequent bus delays.
Journey with Na’im to Edmondson Westside High School on MTA buses in this documentary. With only one bus route available to him for his commute to and from school, inconsistent and unreliable transportation frequently results in valuable lost learning time.
Check Out These Organizations for More Ways to Get Involved
1. Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
Advocates for all transit riders across the region to gain equal access to public transit.
2. Baltimoreans for Educational Equity
A group of teachers, former teachers, families, students, and allies who work collectively for educational equity at the district, city, and state level.
3. Transform MD Transportation
A coalition composed of over 65 organizations, which works to ensure that Maryland residents, workers, businesses and other stakeholders have reliable and equitable public transportation, access to jobs, and a clean transportation system that reduces the impact of the growing climate crisis.
NOT IN SERVICE in the News
Our most recent report has resonated with media, educational and youth organizations, civic leaders and city residents. They have brought attention to this longtime barrier to educational and personal success, which has already resulted in an enthusiastic call for transportation improvements.
Take a look at some of the recent media coverage of NOT IN SERVICE:
- WYPR’s On The Record with Sheilah Kast: “Students Rely On City Transit – Does It Work?”
- WMAR-2 News: “NOT IN SERVICE: Report highlights issues with public transit for students”
- Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore students travel to and from schools on a transportation system that wasn’t designed for them. A new report documents their struggles.”
- Baltimore Sun: Baltimore kids need a more reliable way to get to school | COMMENTARY
- Baltimore Sun: Maryland’s failure to invest in transit has shortchanged Baltimore students | READER COMMENTARY
- Baltimore Fishbowl: Report: Baltimore City students unsatisfied with public transit services
- Baltimore Business Journal: 8 things you need to know today
- WMAR-2 News: “Baltimore City Council Committee holds meeting to hear student experiences riding MTA buses to school”
- Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition: Baltimore Transit Equity Solidarity Day Event
- WYPR News: “City students face long public transit commutes to school”
- Baltimore Sun: “To close the opportunity gap in Baltimore schools, we must invest in transit”
- Teachers’ Democracy Project’s parent power podcast: Transportation: The Problem with Getting to School