Bill Threatens U.S. Transit Funding

A new proposal by the House Ways and Means Committee would eliminate a crucial source of mass transit funding, posing a major threat to the nation's transit systems.

The bill would prohibit the use of gasoline-tax revenue to support public transportation, a funding stream that has been in place for more than three decades. If the bill were to pass, it would introduce a level of uncertainty that will make planning for capital projects far more difficult and expensive.

In the tri-state region, capital projects such as the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access to bring Long Island Rail Road in Grand Central Terminal would be endangered if the bill were made law. Long overdue repair and replacement on PATH, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and New Jersey Transit and maintenance of the bus fleet throughout the region also would be affected.

Nowhere in the nation is the success and growth of the regional economy more dependent on the provision of safe, reliable public transit to get people to their jobs. Throughout the tri-state area, the repair and expansion of our mass-transit systems provides thousands of jobs in the construction industry and in the manufacturing of equipment.

"This bill threatens to fracture a longstanding surface-transportation coalition of highway and public-transit advocates that together have been instrumental in enacting the nation's transportation policies since 1982," said Petra Todorovich, director of RPA's America 2050 national planning program.

"Without transit, the transportation bill will not get through Congress this year. Already delayed for two years, this pushes the passage of the transportation bill further into the future, and with it, the job creating effects of our nation's transportation program."