ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland leaders are pushing for stronger, more equitable public transportation. That’s why they’re sponsoring a bill they hope will provide millions more to the Maryland Transit Authority.

Del. Brooke Lierman, a Baltimore Democrat, said the MTA has identified more than $2 billion in unfunded system maintenance. She and other lawmakers support the legislation, titled the Transit Safety and Investment Act.

“If we want to build a state that’s connected where folks can say, reach our state capitol by public transit, we have to pay for it,” she said.

The bill proposes $462 million each year for repair of Maryland’s regional transit plus an additional $100 million for enhancements.

The funding is intended to address a backlog in repairs and maintenance as well as security systems and environmentally-friendly technology.

Commuters said making the transit system more reliable is welcome.

Angela Dow, who commutes from her home in east Baltimore to work on Reisterstown Road, said oftentimes buses are inconsistent and unreliable.

“Waiting for the bus, sometimes it never shows,” she said.

Ron Harden takes multiple buses to get downtown.

Reliable transit service is important “just for us to be able to get where we need to go because not everyone drives,” he said.

It’s also an issue of equity, Mayor Brandon Scott said.

“Here in Baltimore, almost one-third of households do not have access to a vehicle, with much higher concentrations in historically redlined neighborhoods,” he said.

Last year, the legislation passed in the House of Delegates but stalled in the Senate. Lierman said she expects it to come up for a hearing any day and is confident it will make it through both chambers this session.

Rachel Menitoff