“The American Conservative Center for Public Transportation and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) are issuing this statement to address the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee proposed title that would end the use of a portion of the gas tax to fund public transportation and instead fund public transit through an unpredictable, unstable, and diminishing source of funding.
Since 1983, under President Ronald Reagan, a portion of fuels tax revenues have been dedicated to public transit through the Mass Transit Account of the federal Highway Trust Fund. These dedicated revenues were not diverted from the Highway Account, but rather were enacted specifically to support public transit capital investment as part of a balanced surface transportation program. This effort seeks to undo nearly 30 years of overwhelming bipartisan support for dedicated federal investment in public transit. It provides for only a one-time appropriation and provides no guarantee for any public transportation investment beyond FY 2016. This makes it virtually impossible for public transit agencies to develop reliable long-term capital plans, and it could leave the future of the public transit program in doubt.
There is a bipartisan effort underway in Congress to restore the Mass Transit Account and return dedicated motor fuels tax revenues to public transportation. In this regard, The American Conservative Center for Public Transportation and APTA are particularly concerned that there is a misunderstanding of the conservative position on public transportation. Well-known public transit critics create confusion on this point by presenting their positions as conservative when in fact they promote libertarian viewpoints that are inconsistent with traditional conservative goals.
Conservatives understand that investment in public transportation infrastructure serves as an important tool for economic development. In fact, investment in public transit, especially rail, substantially raises property values. One dollar invested in public transportation yields $4 dollars in economic returns. It also provides an affordable transportation option for working people and a means for those without cars to get to jobs.
Public transportation reduces our dependence on overseas oil. Becoming a more energy independent nation is a goal that all Americans can embrace regardless of party affiliation.
We agree with both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress who are currently offering simple, common sense measures to ensure we restore the proper investment in public transit. We strongly urge the U.S. House to support these efforts as they move toward finalizing legislation to pass a multi-year transportation bill.”
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.
The American Conservative Center for Public Transportation’s primary purpose is to build support for public transportation, especially urban and intercity rail, as a non-partisan, non-ideological infrastructure issue. The Center champions a balanced transportation system in which rail and highway travel complement each other. We recognize that some journeys will always be more convenient by car. However, Americans should have the choice to travel to and from any point in the country without relying on an automobile. By restoring this flexibility, which existed as recently as the 1950′s, we can lay the foundation for an America less dependent on oil and secure from threats from the Middle East and other oil-producing areas.