News pickup: Public transit faces 30% cut in federal funding

With Congress in a budget-cutting frenzy, we certainly expected to hear about the inevitable cuts in funding for public transit. They haven’t officially happened yet, but you can bet they’re coming. The Democratic-controlled Senate is more amenable to retaining current spending levels, while the Republican House wants the cuts.

As the Tribune reported Wednesday, more than $17 billion in transportation projects are at risk if Congress makes a 30% cut in pending legislation. Illinois would lose $210 million the first year and more than $1 billion in projects over six years.

That is really shortsighted. And makes it hard to believe the Red/Purple Modernization Project will ever truly happen.

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  • I mentioned in June the July Car & Driver article saying that the TEA bill was messed up. There were reports before the all of August Labor Day recess that the House was going to cut it 30%. So, this exactly isn't news. Maybe in a month Byrne will "report" that the FAA bill is in a similar situation.

    The only "news" is that "public transit advocates" rallied, not that the entire bill was a mess. Of course,the usual suspects, like Schlickman (who Hilkevitch conveniently leaves out, is a former head of the joke called the RTA) are the ones who turned out--not for any concern about the riders, but for their own self interest. There isn't going to be consulting contracts without a new bill.

    In fact, I'm surprised you didn't post 10 days ago that the common folk were supposed to bring their picket signs and join them. This is said probably only half sarcastically.

    In fact, one wonders if any federal funds are being received now, in that the CTA construction report only contains two behind deadline signal projects, and Pace and Metra both indicate that the state will have to pay for buses and cars [out of the proceeds of the liquor, candy, license ticker, and video poker taxes]. Or all the federal funds being shifted to operating, and that's why the ATU is protesting, too?

    One can't take stuff at face value.

  • I am baffled why Illinois (or any state for that matter) should think they are entitled to federal funding of these projects. If Illinois thinks it's such a good idea let them come up with the money. Better yet just raise fares to pay for these valuable improvements.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    1. The federal government hasn't exempted Illinois drivers from paying gas tax, which funds this bill.

    2. As I noted above, if Illinois ever gets past winning the Wirtz suit and doing something with the money it has been collecting for 2 years, it apparently will be primarily Illinois money.

  • In reply to jack:

    Gas taxes should not be used to pay for public transportation. Also, roads should not be subsidized by anything other than gas taxes. The notion that the feds should collect and redistribute money is absurd.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Well, as boofoo and his like indicates, the riders aren't going to pay for it either.

    If you want to argue that a federal transportation bill shouldn't include all transportation (other than aviation under the FAA bill) on a theoretical basis, that's fine, but Congress hasn't gone in that direction in the past 30 years. Also, if you are arguing that the feds shouldn't be collecting and redistributing money, I guess the only function of the federal government is to provide a defense.

    Joe Walsh might go along with this laissez-faire position, but no one else.

    BTW, since you blog as a real estate agent, why should Congress support the housing market? Maybe it should have gone to hell, as it was doing in 2008.

    Ideologues do not prove anything on either side.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Also, what I implied above, but may not be clear to most of you, is that this is a transportation bill, not a transit bill.

    All transportation matters, including highways and bridges, are impacted.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Better yet, impose a tax on gasoline that will make up the difference and make sure those new funds can only be spent on transit.

  • In reply to boofoochoochoo:

    Given that the transit agencies in this region have shown a consistent history of blowing that money on slipshod work, no.

    Also, again we have the typical response on this blog that everyone is responsible for paying for transit, except the riders. Compare that to the Tollway saying that the only way we can pay for highway construction in this area is almost doubling tolls.

    There are policy questions for Congress to resolve, but it certainly won't resolve those in this manner.

  • In reply to boofoochoochoo:

    Why should gas taxes fund public transportation?

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    Because, without transit, gas taxes would have to be quadrupled to pay for all the new roads & bridges needed.
    No mass transit & you'll put another million cars on the roads around here.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    So we're not in your way in our cars?

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