Understanding The Transportation Services Operating Budget Decrease

If you have had the time to review the 2020 Howard County Operating Budget you might have noticed the decrease in funding for Transportation Services. The amount of money budgeted in 2020 reduced by more than $1.8 million (or 9.6%). Transportation services is generally on the minds of many in the county so that reduction caught my eye and I wanted to know more…especially since transportation was noted in the comments from the County Executive in the budget summary:

“Implementation of the first phase of the Consolidated Transit Plan’s recommendations, including a major reconfiguration of the county’s bus routes with a focus on more frequent service, shorter trip times and expanded Sunday service”

I reached out to Howard County Government about the reduction and got the following response:

Office of Transportation has three funds.

    • The reduction in program revenue fund is due to Anne Arundel County removing their contribution to the RTA for several routes. Anne Arundel County is now managing these routes on their own in a modified form.
    • Howard County General Fund contribution to the transit system has increased slightly to support upcoming route and frequency improvements.
    • The grants fund also increased.

Here is a breakdown of funds listed in the budget:

So the General Fund does show a slight increase and the Grants Fund shows a decent increase. The Program Revenue Fund is the one that took the big hit from Anne Arundel County removing their contribution.

Looking at approved total funding for transportation over the past few years:

  • 2020: 17,410,343 (proposed)
  • 2019: 19,212,311
  • 2018: 18,303,846
  • 2017: 16,579,772

Hopefully the “Anne Arundel County is now managing these routes on their own in a modified form” will not cause any issues into the future. If I find out more about this…I may do a follow up post in the future.

Scott E

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One comment

  1. IMO, Howard County needs to get out of the RTA contract as well and provide exceptional transportation services to Howard Countians… IMO, RTA is unresponsive to riders issues and concerns; ignores bus drivers’ and passengers’ expressed maintenance concerns; ignores speed limits while making schedules and drivers are expected to make their schedules; other rules of the road; and more… RTA is not compliant with ADA at its fixed route bus stops and passengers in need of assistance on the fixed route system should be interviewed as to their experiences.

    The new schedule will require Ellicott City/Columbia residents to go to Columbia Mall to get to Ellicott City…and all of Ellicott City is only served by one bus, that doesn’t do to Ellicott City historic area shops and restaurants. Go to an evening meeting at the George Howard Building? No transportation home. While the new schedule provides expanded Sunday Service, there is no service to Savage or Laurel.

    Ride for a month and communicate your findings… Have suggested that Calvin and his Executive Staff + Department Heads AND the County Council and their staff ride the bus for 30 days, and see what their collective reflections of this experience are… Fund RTA — No!


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