Letter Opposing Maryland's Purple Line | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Letter Opposing Maryland's Purple Line

Letters to Officials

The Honorable Lawrence J. Hogan  

Governor of Maryland 

100 State Circle 

Annapolis, Maryland 21401   


The Honorable Peter V.R. Franchot  

Comptroller of Maryland 

80 Calvert Street 

Annapolis, Maryland 21404   


The Honorable Nancy K. Kopp 

Maryland State Treasurer 

80 Calvert Street 

Annapolis, Maryland 21404 


Dear Governor Hogan, Comptroller Franchot, and Treasurer Kopp,

On behalf of the 30,027 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Maryland, I urge you to vote against the public­-private partnership (P3) of the proposed ​$4.65 billion​ Maryland Purple Line during the Board of Public  Works hearing on April 6, 2016. 

When the Purple Line was first introduced, the initial estimate was $2 billion for construction, operations and maintenance.  Since then, costs have more than doubled to $4.65 billion ($990 million for construction and $3.66 billion for operations and maintenance).  These figures do not  take into account $447 million in additional costs outside of the contract, such as off­site  environmental mitigation, right­of­way acquisition, utilities, Maryland Transit Administration  (MTA) final design reviews, and MTA construction oversight.  Moreover, under the P3 contract, MTA retains the risk of changes in electricity prices during the operations and maintenance phase of the contract.  Based on current electricity prices, this will cost MTA approximately $2.5 million per year.  If the Board of Public Works proceeds with a “yes” vote for the Purple Line, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence against its viability, Maryland taxpayers will once again be on the hook for another wasteful government project.

Approval of the Purple Line will waste taxpayer dollars for an unwise and unwarranted light rail project at the same time that Maryland’s bridges, roads, MARC Trains, and Metro are all in dire need of improvements.  In addition to the $225.2 million need for planning, engineering, and right­of­way acquisition, public contributions for the construction of the Purple Line total $1.4 billion: $933 million from the federal government, $160 million from the state government, $210 million from Montgomery County, and $120 million from Prince George’s County.  More importantly, this does not take into consideration that taxpayers in Montgomery County will be left footing the bill when associated improvements at the Bethesda Metro Red Line Station South Entrance, the Capital Crescent Trail, the Silver Spring Green Trail, and conduit/fiber for the county exceed the $170 million threshold. 

While the state is understandably concerned with improvements in infrastructure in order to better accommodate the commuter traffic in the DC Metro area, the Purple Line has taxpayers seeing red.  With an estimated cost per passenger of $63,431 and outrageously unrealistic ridership projections that are 2.5 times greater than 31 of the 32 light rail systems in the U.S., there is no basis whatsoever under which the Purple Line could be considered reasonable or necessary.  Even if the state had a massive surplus, which it does not, the project would still not be a rational investment.

If the state moves forward with the Purple Line, it will not only impede future infrastructure improvements, it would also undermine the funds available in the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund. 

Governor Hogan, I urge you to demonstrate the same courage that you displayed during your campaign and stand against the Purple Line by voting “no” during the Board of Public Works hearing on April 6.  I urge Comptroller Franchot and Treasurer Kopp to follow suit.  Thank you for your consideration of CCAGW’s position on this important issue. 


Tom Schatz

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