Dear Friends, 
     I wanted to share with you the letter which Senator Peters and I sent to Secretary Rahn requesting that an overall economic viability study on the MAGLEV be conducted concurrently with the study of the proposed paths.   During our conversations with citizens about the District, we became very concerned that being in one of the "proposed possible" paths has become an economic uncertainty.  The longer the "study" of proposed routes continues, the great the financial impact to the homeowner.
     The letter to Secretary Rahn is re-pasted below for your information.   Please know that I will continue to do whatever I can to bring attention the MAGLEV and make sure that our citizen's concerns are heard at the state level.  
     As always, please feel free to contact me at and share your thoughts. 
Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
6 Bladen Street Room 427
Annapolis, MD  21401
Letter to Secretary of Maryland Transportation Pete Rahn
                                                                        November 1, 2017
Mr. Pete K. Rahn
Maryland Department of Transportation
Dear Secretary Rahn,
We are writing to inquire as to the timeline of the study for the overall economic feasibility of the SCMAGLEV line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  During our conversations with constituents, we have already had several instances of homeowners whose pending contracts of sale for their homes were cancelled due to the future economic uncertainty because of "possible" MAGLEV routes.  The longer the "study" of proposed routes continues, the greater the financial impact to these homeowners.   We believe an overall determination of the economic feasibility of the train should be part of the concurrent evaluations and not subject to further delay. 
The Federal grant requires SCMAGLEV between Baltimore and Washington D.C. to be economically viable. "Once [infrastructure is] built and paid for, the corridor will stand alone as a complete, self-sustaining operation...the total, fully allocated operating expenses of the maglev service [being]...offset by revenues attributable to the service."  Notice of Funding Availability and Solicitation of Applications for Magnetic Levitation Projects Federal Register 80, no. 54, p 15053, 15056.
Although Washington-to-New York is the "ultimate goal," according to the private developer Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail, the test for economic viability under the grant and under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires proof of the economic viability and "independent utility" of the Baltimore-to-D.C. system without any consideration of the potential and speculative revenues or benefits of a D.C.-to-New York system.  It is difficult to imagine that the ridership demand to get from Baltimore to D.C. in 15 minutes will be enough to justify the significant increase in the price of a ticket currently available through MARC.
The economic analysis must be comprehensive and detailed. The "total, fully allocated operating expenses of the maglev service" must be weighed against "revenues attributable to the service." In addition to overhead and profit, wages and benefits, equipment maintenance and repairs, and huge energy costs, the "total, fully allocated expenses" should include equipment depreciation, fully allocated interest, and security costs to protect such a high-visibility target (which should not be borne by local and state government). There must be substantial evidence upon which to base ridership and revenues; information about ticket prices, and rider purpose and demographics should be included. Total projected revenues must be weighed against operating expenses on a year-by-year basis. The analysis should be done by an independent consultant with no ties to the private developer, and the economic analysis should be completed and approved by the Federal Railroad Administration as soon as possible because of the adverse impacts of residences in the path of the various SCMAGLEV alternative routes, whose property values and ability to sell their homes have been hurt by the possibility that the system will be constructed near their property.
The recent announcements about the potential viability of hyperloop should also be included in the economic analysis because it may be significantly faster.  In theory, SCMAGLEV may travel from Washington, D.C. to New York in an hour - hyperloop in 29 minutes.  Given such potential differences in travel times, it would be prudent to compare total projected expenses and revenues of both systems because at twice the speed, ridership demand for hyperloop, and the associated ticket prices, should be higher.  Unless there is a substantial increase in costs for hyperloop, the economics of the faster technology may likely be superior.
Hyperloop could also reduce adverse environmental impacts on communities, cultural resources, and natural resources if, as proponents suggest, it would be entirely underground.  Alternative routes for SCMAGLEV are above ground for many miles between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, and BWRR has stated that it is economically impractical to put the entire system underground.  Comparing hyperloop and SCMAGLEV in terms of environmental impacts affects economic valuation because condemnation and the diminished value of remaining properties reduces tax base, and population may also be reduced.  The economic analysis should compare hyperloop and SCMAGLEV in terms of the grant requirement that "total public benefits equal or exceed total societal costs" because the higher speed of hyperloop may increase public benefit while a totally underground infrastructure could reduce societal costs.
Completion of a detailed economic analysis by an independent consultant and its approval by the Federal Railroad Administration is a requirement of the grant.  This work should be completed as soon as possible because, if the system is not, as many believe, economically viable, then it is foolish to waste federal funds on further study, and it would be negligent to continue a study that is already hurting the property values of residents in the study area.
We look forward to a response as to when this analysis can be expected.    
Douglas J.J. Peters
Senator, District 23
Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate, District 23A

By Authority of Friends For Geraldine Valentino-Smith, Elizabeth Ryan, Treasurer