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NOT IN SERVICE: Why Public Transit Must Aim to Serve Students

A Report from the Fund for Educational Excellence

Getting Involved in Transportation Advocacy

Immediate Actions 

1. 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.

2. Learn about the MTA Youth Transit Council, where 20 young people will serve 13-month terms  and attend six meetings with the MTA to address transit issues affecting students.  

3. Learn about the Anti-Harassment Campaign, where MTA riders can file a sexual harassment report directly with MTA personnel. You can also find approaches to take if you witness sexual harassment as well. 

4. Read more for updates on Baltimore’s Red Line Relaunch, which will enhance east-west connectivity in Baltimore.

SB0070 – Requires MDOT MTA to publish a report on their website detailing any impacts of reductions or cancellations to existing bus routes.

HB0107 – Prohibits people from driving, standing, or parking vehicles in dedicated bus lanes. A workgroup will be established which will provide recommendations on how to manage curb space changes.

HB0095 – Will create a workgroup to study school bus safety which will include issues related to student and driver behavior on buses.

Past Actions 

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. 

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 was signed by the Governor.

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.

Recommendations: 

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. #BetterTransitNOW Campaign
Join this campaign and share your story as an MTA rider in Baltimore and learn about opportunities to connect with elected officials.

4. 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.

Follow updates on their twitter page 
E-mail to get involved: info@transformMDtransportation.org

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

Request a Copy of the Report: Click here to request a mailed copy of the report.

Social Media Graphics: Click here to download graphics you can share via social media!

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