House Republicans move to eliminate transit funding; contact your U.S. rep

Those nutty House Republicans are at it again. This time they are trying to eliminate guaranteed funding for transit agencies by taking away their allocation of gas taxes. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association summed it up just about how I would, so I will let them do the talking:

"Don't own a car?! Don't want to pay high gas prices to get around? Too bad!"  

That's essentially what U.S. House leadership and the Ways and Means Committee said late last night when they made a shocking attack on transit that could have huge impacts for the millions of people who depend on public transportation each day!   They have proposed an unprecedented bill that would eliminate any guaranteed funding for public transportation in the highway fund. Instead, public transportation systems around the U.S. will be forced to fight before Congress for general funds each year - all while highway spending continues to be guaranteed.

This bill would undermine decades of bipartisan investments in public transit. President Reagan originally made a decision in the 1980's to fund our nation's transit system out of a small share of gas tax revenues. Yesterday's move by House leadership and the Ways and Means Committee would roll back 30+ years of this successful bipartisan transportation policy. Funding for mass transit would no longer be guaranteed year-to-year and there would be no long-term stability for public transportation.

If passed into law, this proposal would represent a big change in transportation policy, designed to return us to the car or nothing policies of the 1950's. It would impact high-speed rail too. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has always felt that transit and high-speed rail are two inextricably linked policy issues. Both are part of an integrated network that would provide multimodal options to all intercity travelers. Without a successful transit system, we can't have a successful high-speed rail program.

States, cities, communities and their transit systems could lose billions. Mass transit systems will be forced to make cuts to service and increase fares, if they can afford to operate at all. Transportation for America has estimated that the Greater Chicago region alone could stand to loose up to $1.2 Billion over the next five years.

What can you do about it? Contact your U.S. representative and let him/her know you oppose this. Use this tool from the Active Transportation Alliance to find your rep.

Comments

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  • Well, I told all the posters who complained here for eons "why should be support highways out of general revenue" that something like this was going to happen. Apparently, the Republicans got your message.

    The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

  • A good percentage of the people who regularly use public transit, either have cars, or could easily afford 1. So take away public transit from a city like Chicago. The consequences would be indescribable. You think traffic sucks now? Add a couple million cars a day. Cities across the country would completely shut down. It won't matter if you were a regular transit user, or have never used it in your life, you will immediately feel the impact.

  • What part of our country is broke don't people understand? The government must prioritise, and can't be everything to everyone.
    Things are going to have to be cut, my wish list is HUD,EPA, and transit. When CTA loses funding they should prioritise the lowincome people who can't afford cars over the poeple who are just going green and can afford cars. They are going to have to have shuttles and express busses, they will have to figure it out. I hope the republicans stand their ground and don't cave on this one.

  • In reply to carmelcutie:

    Do you seriously understand what it will be like to drive around here if we're all driving? Seriously? Or parking--try parking with an extra million cars all trying to do the same thing.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Of course, you forgot that parking meter rates were increased,and Emanuel just raised parking taxes.

    I don't have anything against infrastructure spending for transit, except (a) I don't see why the riders should be exempt from paying for it, and (b) CTA has to stop wasting the money on such things as fixing slow zones that aren't fixed, or exterior wood that is not treated.

  • For the cost of every empty PACE bus and its driver and its maintenance, vouchers could be handed out to the few PACE riders to take taxi's.

    Eventually, because of the state of the debt owed by the feds and Illinois and the county and the city, the entire system will implode. The wheels will be falling off this bus and all the others.

    There is only so much of other peoples money to go around.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Pace says what you say is a myth, between their various restructurings (see this month's board minutes on people having to pay a $1 to save a bus route and telling others to use van pools), and frugal management. Of course they don't also mention the off the top funding allocations.

    So, unfortunately, you don't have an answer here, including an answer for the costs caused by CTA mismanagement that past and current management wants to foist off on suburban taxpayers.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Newt Gingrich called. He wants his talking points back.

  • Well, in this extremely scarce money and funding situation - you could attempt to submit a Capital Plan that would solve major Transit Goals much more expansively (and at a fraction of the cost of) some
    projects from here being submitted to Washington and Springfield for
    federal and local funding; but the Agencies probably wouldn't listen.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in Washington, and in
    Springfield - especially when factored with the new Illinois Senate
    Bill 2572, which will soon create better ways and criteria for prioritizing and funding of local Transit Projects:
    http://e-lobbyist.com/gaits/view/358476

  • Unfortunately, this is more smoke and mirrors not changing much of anything. Of course, I also recommend going to the original of the bill, which is at http://ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=84&GA=97&DocTypeId=SB&DocNum=2572&GAID=11&LegID=62844&SpecSess=&Session=

    1. All this requires is more reports.

    2. While it says that the RTA can withhold capital funding, the service boards get their capital funding appropriations, for the most part, directly from the feds or state. See, for instance PA 96-305, page 70.* Hence, the RTA can't withhold much of anything.

    3. Garrett is retiring, and it is indicated that because of election fears, the legislature isn't going to take on much of anything.

    So, like so many other things the legislature has done, including on Garrett's bills, such as conditioning a study of service coordination (not coordination itself) on the vote of 9 RTA directors, they have fooled you and the rest of us again. After all, the bill only deals with the do-nothing RTA.

    ___________
    *Since this allows only one link per post, I'll post the link below.

  • Link to PA-95-35:

    http://ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/96/PDF/096-0035.pdf

    Suburban Bus Division $90 million
    Chicago Transit Authority $900 million
    Commuter Rail Division $1.8 billion.

    Nothing to the RTA.

  • Things have to go one step at a time jack - even I can't take over the World in one day.

  • My comment had nothing to do with what you are doing, but just that the legislature tried to dupe the public again.

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