More than two months after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, three of the largest public transit systems in the United States -- the New York MTA, Port Authority – Trans Hudson (PATH), and NJ TRANSIT – along with those included in Presidential disaster declarations in 11 states and the District of Columbia, are still waiting for the federal government to come to their aid.
“As has been noted by others, federal aid has always been available to communities where natural disasters occurred,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “The time to act is now. The public transit systems in the Northeast that were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy need emergency federal funds to address the unprecedented destruction in their transit systems.”
This week the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on emergency aid, which will include federal funds to restore affected public transportation systems. In the last Congress, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of a $60 billion aid package, which would have included $10.8 billion for public transportation systems and mitigation activities that would prevent similar destruction from natural disasters in the future.
In the new 113th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives is beginning the legislative process on this issue with a vote later this week. APTA is urging House Members to vote for the Frelinghuysen amendment to H.R. 152, which will bring the federal funding for public transportation restoration and mitigation activities to $10.9 billion. Without the Frelinghuysen amendment, the House bill includes $5.4 billion in funding for public transportation.
“It is vitally important that Congress vote for the Frelinghuysen amendment,” said Melaniphy. “The New York and New Jersey region is the top economic area in our country. The millions of people in this region who depend on public transportation deserve the same assistance that other areas of the country have received when natural disasters have occurred.”
In conclusion, Melaniphy said, “The damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy was devastating. The cost of bringing systems to their pre-storm condition cannot be achieved by the public transit agencies and local governments alone. Congress needs to make this legislation a top priority.”
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.