Congress is currently debating our federal transportation programs and spending, and the way things are going, the impacts to transit riders could be disastrous. This week, a committee of the House of Representatives released the text of a bill (H.R.3864) that would effectively transfer all funding from the federal Mass Transit Account—and put it into the Highway Account. This move would destroy a dedicated revenue source for transit, established by President Reagan thirty years ago, and jeopardize $5 billion annually for the nation’s transit systems. Some are calling it a declaration of war on transit.
This means transit agencies nationwide would have to fight for general funds every year. For 2012, RTA was planning to get approximately 12% of its total budget from federal sources, and CTA alone usually gets about $250 million per year. CTA uses this money for capital projects like station rehab, track improvement, and new cleaner buses and trains. Loss of this funding could put the brakes on all sorts of maintenance and expansion projects throughout the region, and it could translate into significant service cuts, fare increases, or both.
The outlook in this bill for funding walking and biking projects is similarly bleak.
Congress will be acting on this bill immediately. Tell your Representative to vote against this bill, and that this is exactly the wrong direction for our nation’s transportation.
We need to invest in a transportation system with transit, walking and biking as an integral part. This bill instead represents a doubling down on highways and abandonment of transit riders and communities.