why do you say our current system isn’t equitable?
The bus and light rail systems that run through the city are in many ways the legacy of outdated and discriminatory approaches to urban planning and development. Historically, the city has never funded adequate transportation to serve Black and Brown Americans — even though on average Black and Brown Americans use transportation a lot more than white Americans. Starting in the 50s, when white Americans started leaving the cities, the federal government shifted funding priorities to favor highways to serve the suburbs. Public transit systems in the cities were consistently underfunded. When the occasional support was found to develop new rail lines in the city, they were typically located in more white and affluent parts of the city.
A legacy of this is that today, wealthy and white neighborhoods get the most access to public transit, while many Black neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore barely get any access at all. These neighborhoods, which contain higher proportions of transit-dependent residents, have no rail service, fewer bus stops, and longer wait times for the bus to arrive. On average, people living in these neighborhoods have DOUBLE the commute times as other residents in the city. This makes it twice as hard for these residents to get access to the same goods and services that other city residents take for granted. Trips to work, daycare, school, the grocery store, or the doctor’s office are major ordeals — especially when bus service is spotty. Many folks in these neighborhoods have to leave 3-4 hours before their shift begins in order to be able to get to work on time.
On top of all this, these neighborhoods are disportionately affected by pollution, public health disparities, and little to no economic investment. Continued dependence on automobile-centered systems only exacerbates these inequities, perpetuating unhealthy and stressful living conditions.