Last week, we discussed a U.S. House of Representatives bill that called for the elimination of dedicated funding from the Highway Trust Fund for public transit, replacing it with a one-time allocation that runs out completely in 2016. This week, it was announced that House Speaker John Boehner has pulled the House transportation authorization bill from consideration by the House, at least temporarily.
Thank you to everyone who sent Congress a letter, email, phone call or other means of support for public transit funding. Your voices were essential in encouraging the House to reconsider the tenets of the bill.
We commend U.S. Representative Russ Carnahan for voting NO in the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee when this bill came up for a vote.
Transit providers across the country are pleased the Speaker and the House members are slowing their actions to consider how to best address long-range transit funding instead of a quick fix. By removing transit’s dedicated funding source, the critical services we all provide become subject to an unstable future.
Public transit connects people to jobs. More than 75 percent of Metro riders are using the system to get to work, including many people the region depends upon. In addition, in St. Louis last year, Metro brought in nearly $75 million in capital grants for projects like the Swansea Illinois BikeLink Trail; the Scott Street Transit Plaza; the East Riverfront and UMSL South MetroLink Interlocking projects.
There are signs Congress might be getting the point. On the other side of the Hill, the Senate is stalled on their 2-year version of a Transportation bill, and they won’t be acting until after recess as well. We have to keep our voices out there and heard. We hope Congress continues to realize the importance of transit for our economy and for our communities.