The groups "Trains, not Tolls" and Frederick Progressives (co-sponsors), along with Delegate Ken Kerr and Brunswick's Mayor Nathan Brown, held an informative discussion on January 14, 2023, at C Burr Artz Library on the need for expanded MARC train service from Frederick County, Maryland to Washington, DC. Currently, the Brunswick Line into Frederick, Maryland, has three-morning and three-night trains running, with no weekend service. Two other elected officials were in attendance, Delegate Karen Simpson and Senator Karen Young, the co-chair transportation caucus and co-sponsor of bill SB-514. Senator Young expressed strong support for more MARC trains for Frederick County.
The consensus was that an all-day Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train service, including weekends between Frederick, Brunswick, and Washington, DC, is needed for commuter employment and tourism. Ultimately, the speakers expressed the need for the western expansion of this line to Hagerstown. Delegate Ken Kerr, who co-sponsored HB-778 (SB-514/HB-788 Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act (Act)) in 2022, discussed this legislation and provided handouts of the Act.
Mayor Brown said expanding the MARC train service into Brunswick would transform the town's economy. Still, he cited that CSX (the owner of the current MARC train tracks) was hindering such a move. However, speakers noted that the upgrades' expense, as outlined in the Act: "The MARC Cornerstone Implementation Study Plan," and objections by CSX could be significant obstacles to moving forward. However, Delegate Kerr expressed optimism that the Wes Moore and Joe Biden administrations will support important transportation policy changes more than the Larry Hogan administration.
Frederick County Progressives and the Maryland Department of the Environment's position is that the transportation sector is the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Suppose Maryland is to meet its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) goal of a state reduction in GHG emission by 60% by 2031 (from 2006 levels). In that case, we must reduce miles traveled on Maryland's roads by expanding Maryland's investment in MARC trains.
Our message to the newly elected leadership of Frederick County and the State of Maryland is straightforward. We need more MARC trains to Frederick County, Maryland. The expansion of MARC train service into Frederick County, Maryland, has been studied for 15 years; we need action now, not another study.
As we agreed at the end of the meeting, the most effective way to send that message is to tell your own story of what more MARC trains would mean for you. County Executive Fitzwater and Governor Moore have transition websites where you can do that. Here are the links:
County Executive Jessica Fitzwater: Go to the bottom
of the page and put your story in the box for "Sustainability,
Infrastructure & Transportation": https://publicinput.com/g6208
Governor Wes Moore: Go down to "Share
your idea" and press the "Submit" button: https://mooremillermd.com/