Emergency transit funding bill introduced, tell your Senators to support itMay 25, 2010
By Stephen Lee Davis
|Crowded Train Originally uploaded by Oran Viriyincy
|Sound Transit in Seattle is one of hundreds of public transport agencies facing fare increases, service cuts or layoffs in 2010, according to the T4 America interactive map of the crisis.|
A new bill that would provide $2 billion in emergency funding for public transportation agencies was introduced in the Senate today. (View official T4 statement here.)
For the last year or more, T4 America has been rallying support from our tens of thousands of individual supporters and 450+ partners from across the country to call on Congress to step in during this nationwide transit funding crisis brought on by this recession, threatening millions of riders and hundreds of agencies.
Today, led by a group of 7 Senators, Congress has taken a step forward. If you’re one of the thousands who called or emailed your representatives with this message, your efforts have paid off with this good news for public transportation, but the work is not finished yet.
The bill still needs lots of support to make it through the Senate in the coming weeks. Tell your senators: support emergency funding for transit systems!
The new bill — the Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010 — was introduced today in the Senate by Senators Dodd (CT), Brown (OH), Durbin (IL), Gillibrand (NY) Lautenberg (NJ), Menendez (NJ), Reed (RI) and Schumer (NY). (Updated: The bill number is S. 3412.)
Specifically, it will:
…authorize $2 billion for transit agencies nationwide to help close funding gaps in operating costs. Transit agencies can use these funds to reduce fare increases and restore services that were cut after January 2009 or to prevent future service cuts or fare increases through September 2011. Agencies that have not increased rates or cut services and do not plan to do so may use the funds for infrastructure improvements.
It couldn’t come at a better time. Last year, Americans took more than 10.7 billion trips on transit, the highest level in over 50 years. Public transportation use has increased at nearly triple the growth rate of the US population.
If you’ve seen our interactive map of the Transit Funding Crisis, you know the situation: At the same time that public transit agencies are working so hard to serve growing ridership, they face shortfalls in state and local revenues. Transit agencies nationwide are being forced to cut service, raise fares, and lay off workers. Jobs and services are being eliminated for those in greatest need.
This bill will go a long way toward relieving the pain, but it’s up to us to make sure it gets passed. We can’t stand by while transit systems crash and burn.