In Places Journal, Alec MacGillis provides a historical perspective on the demographics and economics of mass transit in Baltimore, focusing particularly on the Red Line — a light rail that would have linked the impoverished, isolated, and transit-poor areas of East and West Baltimore and helped create upward mobility through better access to more jobs.
The Red Line, however, was stunningly canceled in June 2015 by Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan soon after he took office. In doing so, Hogan forfeited $900 million in federal subsidies and reallocated $736 million of state money for road projects serving wealthier — mostly white — suburbs and rural counties. The governor did not cancel the Purple Line, which will serve suburban Washington, DC.
In response, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation in December 2015. As MacGillis notes, the complaint alleged that:
… the killing of the Red Line was “only the latest in the state’s long historical pattern of deprioritizing the needs of Baltimore’s primarily African-American population.”
…On one level, the complaint sought to secure more funds for Baltimore transit, [… and] on a deeper level, it was a demand for reckoning. “After the Red Line was cancelled, there were no protests in the street, there was very little media attention … and there was very little effort to connect the decision of the governor with what we had seen several months earlier [in the riot],” said [Sherrilyn] Ifill, [President and Director-Counsel,] in announcing the lawsuit. “As much attention as we give to the trials of the officers who are charged with killing Freddie Gray, we should give to a decision that implicates 10,000 construction jobs and billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in Baltimore that were eliminated in a single day by a single decision made by a single person.”
To read more from the article, click here.
To read more about the complaint LDF filed, click here.