“There has been bipartisan support for federal investment in public transportation through the federal gas tax since 1983 when, under President Reagan, fuels tax revenues were dedicated to public transportation through the Mass Transit Account of the surface transportation legislation. It is important to note that from 1983 on, dedicated revenue for public transit has never been diverted from highway dollars in the Highway Trust Fund.
Public transportation is also an essential part of the nation’s integrated, interdependent surface transportation system. Public transportation use leads to less cars on the roads, which in turn reduces congestion and allows our existing highway system to function more efficiently. According to the latest report from the Texas Transportation Institute, without public transit, drivers would have suffered an additional 865 million hours of delays.
To suggest that Congress should eliminate funding from the Highway Trust Fund, as some members of Congress did yesterday, is shortsighted. Such an action would be catastrophic for public transportation systems nationwide and hurt the millions of Americans who use it every day in growing numbers. (In 2013, 10.7 billion trips were taken on public transportation – the highest ridership number in 57 years.) Additionally, public transportation is an important economic lifeline for Americans in all size communities, since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transit are for commutes to and from jobs. Removing Americans access to jobs is not good policy.
Within the Federal Transit Administration program, funds go to ALL states, based on formula programs that distribute funds on the basis of both relative need, and state and local government effort. Federal public transit funds are also specifically directed to rural areas as well as urban areas. Under MAP 21, the formula program for rural areas was increased by 29 percent (2013), while funding for the urban formula program grew by only less than one-half of 1 percent. In fact, many rural states depend on the federal transit program for a larger share of their transit spending than more urban states.
Now is the time to increase investment in public transportation, not reduce it. The quality of our transportation system and the competitiveness of our country depends on it.”
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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.