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 President Reagan originally made a decision in the 1980's to fund our nation's transit system out of a small share of gas tax revenues.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.