Washington, D.C. Public transit leaders from across the country spoke out at a press briefing today to strongly oppose the President’s deep cuts to public transit in the Administration’s fiscal year 2019 proposed budget. If fully implemented, these cuts would put at risk 800,000 jobs, including 502,000 construction and related jobs; and an additional 300,000 longer term jobs associated with economic productivity, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). CEOs of local public transit agencies participating in the event were from Jacksonville, FL; Seattle, WA; Pittsburgh, PA; Indianapolis, IN; Albany, NY; Denver, CO; and Washington, DC.
“The proposed budget cuts to public transit will affect accessibility for millions of Americans across the nation that rely on our bus and rail systems to get to and from jobs, healthcare and education,” said APTA Chair and Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “Without this funding, projects that rely on Capital Investment Grants will not be implemented and communities will suffer.
Overall, these proposed cuts would result in a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output, according to an analysis The Economic Implications of Proposed Public Transit Capital Funding Cuts that was prepared by the Economic Development Research Group for APTA. The Administration offered cuts to crucial programs that fund public transit infrastructure to pay for their proposed infrastructure plan.
“Cutting investments in America’s public transit infrastructure to fund an infrastructure initiative is like robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “However, we are encouraged that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support increased investments in public transit that will boost our economy and the quality of life in our local communities. We are calling on Congress to reject these budget cuts.”
The Administration proposes cuts to the Capital Investment Grants (CIG), Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program (TIGER), Amtrak, and the local DC metro’s budget in its fiscal year 2019 proposed budget. The cuts to the CIG program will put 53 public transit new start projects at risk. The projects total $51.7 billion in investments in America’s public transit infrastructure.
These projects also have local and state funds committed with the expectation that the federal government will fulfill its financial obligations promised in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by bipartisan votes of 83-16 in the U.S. Senate and 359-65 in the House of Representatives.
Public transit leaders discussed the community and economic impact of these proposed cuts to local public transit projects and how they leverage new federal investments in public transit infrastructure.
Peter Rogoff, President and CEO, Sound Transit, Seattle, WA
“Puget Sound taxpayers have done their part to keep commuters and our economy moving by adopting the most ambitious transit expansion program in the nation. They reasonably expect the continuation of the longtime federal funding partnership that is needed to complete transit extensions on time and accommodate the 1.2 million new jobs that we know are coming to the region in the years ahead. Local funds are set to pay for more than 60 percent of extending light rail to the City of Lynnwood and 75 percent to reach the City of Federal Way. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to get these projects built.”
Katharine Eagan Kelleman, CEO, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PA
“In Allegheny County, the Capital Investment Grant would be used to make more efficient connections to Downtown Pittsburgh and neighborhoods that are home to several major hospitals and universities, allowing America’s Most Livable City to continue its evolution into a major technology center for our region. Projects like this are only possible when we leverage federal funding with local dollars, and we greatly appreciate and cherish that support. Ultimately, we will only be successful when we work with all of our partners.
Mike Terry, President and CEO, IndyGo, Indianapolis, IN
“Our first rapid transit line, the Red Line, was awarded a Small Starts grant and will connect nearly 150,000 jobs and 50,000 residents in Indianapolis. Without the catalyst of CIG federal funding in partnership with dedicated local funds, these life-changing projects will not continue to be possible.”
Carm Basile, CEO, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY
“The CIG program is critical to communities like Albany, where we were able to build and operate the first BRT line in Upstate New York. This was thanks to the small starts program. Without continued support for this program, we are facing the harsh reality of not being able to meet customer demand and provide additional innovative services which are a necessity for transportation systems across the country to help expand public transportation options, increase connectivity, reduce congestion, and boost economic growth.”
Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager and CEO, Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, Washington, DC
“Federal funding is critical to the safety and reliability of our transit system, which supports a million trips each weekday here in the nation’s capital,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld, CEO of Washington Metro. “At a time when many of our nation’s transit systems are falling dangerously behind on maintenance due to funding challenges, we need more investment, not less.”
David Genova, General Manager and CEO, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO
“Our growing Denver region has been transformed by the investments made in our transit system, a substantial portion of which is from federal funding. Colorado is experiencing firsthand the job creation, growth and billions of dollars of private economic development that have resulted from local and federal partnerships on our projects. Threats to federal transit funding could have direct consequences for our local population, which supports our agency’s efforts to complete remaining projects on the voter-approved FasTracks initiative and deliver the service they expect and deserve.”
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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.