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Proposed cuts to federal transit funding threaten thousands of manufacturing jobs in the supply chain from coast to coast

WASHINGTON, DC — A new Transportation for America paper illustrates how public dollars devoted to making capital improvements to public transportation systems support thousands of manufacturing jobs, in communities small and large, in nearly every state across the country.

These jobs are currently threatened by cuts to federal transit funding proposed by both the Trump Administration and Congress; cuts that would have a heavy impact on the more than 2,700 manufacturers of transit equipment located across 49 of 50 US states.

“Too many leaders in Congress seem to falsely believe that just because the majority of all transit rides take place in major metropolitan areas, that the benefits somehow stop at their borders,” said Kevin Thompson, Director of T4America. “Yet the benefits of these investments ripple out from coast to coast, supporting jobs in communities of nearly every size. As an example, recent capital upgrades made to just four major transit systems — San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, and Portland — are supporting manufacturing jobs in 21 different states.”

The supply chain for public transportation is as deep as it is wide, touching every corner of the country and employing thousands of Americans who produce everything from tracks, to seats, windows, communications equipment, wheels and everything else in between. Heavy cuts to federal transit spending would have a devastating effect on these local businesses and the tens of thousands of jobs they support.

As just one example, Automated Railroad Maintenance Systems (ARMS) in Missouri, produces power, train control, signaling, communications systems and electronics for public transit, passenger, and freight railroads across the country. ARMS’s transit customers depend on federal funding for major new construction project to place orders with the company. “From what we understand there is about $6 billion in federal funding that goes into various transit programs. That’s the main life-blood of this industry,” said Mike Monaco, VP of passenger sales at ARMS. “Obviously, any kind of reduction of federal funding would be a big factor.”

Without continued federal support, transit projects underway could stall, new or planned projects would be postponed or canceled, and transit agencies would scale back or cancel orders of new railcars or buses. But it’s not just federal transit dollars that support these jobs — they’re almost always paired with local or state funds. Many of the communities awaiting federal grants have already raised their own funds via tax increases or ballot measures and are ready to place orders that would be filled by factories and suppliers tailored to serve this industry — employers that may have to downsize or shutter without a steady, predictable pipeline of transit projects.

To preserve these jobs and support main streets from coast to coast, Congress and the administration should support and fund the Transit Capital investment Grants (CIG) Program at or above the $2.3 billion level already agreed upon in the bipartisan 2015 federal reauthorization (The FAST Act).

Read the short paper here: https://t4america.org/maps-tools/transit-supply-chain