Economic stimulus and transit funding

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Sunday, January 25, 2009
By Yokota Fritz


The process is moving quickly, so please act quickly!

An early draft of the economic stimulus bill made provision for funding transit operations in addition to spending on construction projects for a total of $20 billion for transit. In the horse trading that always occurs during the legislative process, the operations grant funding was eliminated altogether along with another $8 billion in transit construction (while highway spending wasn't decreased at all).

Caltrain San Jose Diridon Station

Transit systems nationwide struggle to finance their operations in spite of surging ridership. In the Monterey and San Francisco Bay Areas: Some of the current problems are due to the budget logjam at the state level, but almost all San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area transit services depend on local taxes for part of their operating revenue. Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, for example, reported sales tax revenue was more than $100,000 below budget for November 2008, and revenue is expected to drop off much more this year as Santa Cruz County unemployment now stands at 10%.

Menlo Park Caltrain What good is an economic stimulus of workers can't get to their jobs, or can't afford the transportation to get there? John Kaehny writes this at Streetsblog:
Congress is fiddling with a 1950s-era stimulus package while America's transit systems burn. You name the city, and its transit system is falling off a financial cliff.

So despite big increases in transit ridership, many transit providers are cutting service and even laying off drivers. Yet not one cent from the $825 billion stimulus package would protect America's bus and subway riders from massive service cuts and fare hikes.

The stimulus package is political cognitive dissonance on an epic scale. The proposed stimulus plan not only shortchanges public transit overall, it provides zero aid for day-to-day operations.

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) plans to offer an amendment to return the $2 billion for operating assistance to the economic stimulus bill, on top of the $10 billion already in the bill for transit capital projects. DeFazio needs the support of the House Rules Committee to ensure that the amendment is in order. The House Rules Committee meets Tuesday at 3:30 PM to discuss this amendment.

The Democratic Party House Rules Committee members are Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY), Alcee Hastings (FL), Doris Matsui (CA), Dennis Cardoza (CA), Peter Welch (VT), Kathy Castor (FL), Michael Arcuri (NY), and Betty Sutton (OH). The GOP members of the Rules Committee are David Dreier (CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL), Doc Hastings (WA), and Pete Sessions (TX).

To learn what you can do, please visit Transportation for American Transit cutbacks information page for details and who to call.

Elsewhere: Reminder: If you think this article worthwhile, please press the social media links below for Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Delicious, etc. I really appreciate it!

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Comments:
Sent my comments to Mike Honda. The Bay Area does need a transit upgrade really bad. More bike access and better infrastructure.
 
I posted to FB (as, I see, did Murph) and I got you some views.

Can you point me at the HTML/blogger code for adding buttons like this?

I will write Anna Eshoo *today*!
 
Thanks all! There's a very important update, including specifics on how to contact House Rules Committee chairwoman Slaughter, at http://www.t4america.org/transitcuts

Nick, I'll send you details in a little bit. I'm on the bus right now with limited connectivity.
 
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