House Ways and Means Proposal Ends Guaranteed Funding for Public Transportation

Entering, Porter Square
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House Ways and Means Proposal Ends Guaranteed Funding for Public Transportation
Date Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Contact: Karen Wood
Conservation Law Foundation
(617) 850-1722 or (978) 857-5389


House Ways and Means Proposal Ends Guaranteed Funding for Public Transportation

Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition Fighting MBTA Cuts Confronts Further Threats to Public Transit from Washington

BOSTON, MA Feb. 2, 2011 — In the midst of the battle over proposed cuts to MBTA service and fare hikes, the House Ways and Means Committee in Congress is moving to end guaranteed funding for public transportation, and leave even today’s inadequate funding levels for the MBTA in doubt.

The proposal to bar public transit from receiving funds from the federal motor fuels tax is part of a bill coming before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday morning. That bill sets the revenue levels for the five-year surface transportation bill making its way through the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee today.

“We are deeply concerned that if this measure passes, Massachusetts residents who use public transportation, or who would like that option in the future, will be thrown under the bus,” said Nancy Goodman, chair of Transportation for Massachusetts. “This couldn’t come at a worse time for people who need an affordable, reliable way to get to work, or for our employers who need workers.”

Goodman noted the demand for transit has been rising as the economy slowly recovers, reaching record levels on the MBTA. People are using public transportation to get to jobs and to avoid volatile gas prices. Over the course of the five-year transportation program, America’s population will continue to age rapidly, and a growing number of seniors will be looking to transit services to maintain their independence.

Since Ronald Reagan was president, Congress has supported dedicated funding for both highways and transit. For the last 30 years, transit riders and the services they use have been able to depend on guaranteed funding from a mass transit trust fund replenished by a share of federal gasoline taxes.

As congestion rose in urban areas, and rural areas saw their share of car-less, low-income families rise, bipartisan support grew for providing transit as a dependable relief valve. Removing the guaranteed funding would mean that transit would have to compete each year for general fund revenues that are in line for deep cuts in coming years.

“Massachusetts workers and their employers already are dealing with deep uncertainties in these times of fiscal crisis,” said John Walkey, field organizer, Transportation for Massachusetts. “As local tax revenues have dropped, transit service is being cut, fares raised, and maintenance deferred. Seniors in rural areas are waiting hours for a ride to the doctor, veterans have very few transportation options to get them to VA centers, and workers in cities don’t know when the next bus is coming. Putting these services in jeopardy would be a cruel a blow to these Americans.”

Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), a diverse coalition of Bay State organizations, seeks to promote an environmentally sustainable, reliable, and affordable transportation system for people across the Commonwealth. T4MA believes that a strong and competitive Massachusetts economy requires a transportation system that supports and connects communities while reducing greenhouse gases and other pollution and providing greater choices to users of the state’s rails and roads. Through research, advocacy, and organizing, T4MA works to spur investment in transportation improvements and to obtain the best return on those investments for travelers and taxpayers. T4MA members promote better transportation, regional planning, affordable housing development, public health, environmental protection, environmental justice, and smart growth.

Key Issues:

* Public Transit
* Transportation Finance
* Federal Transportation Legislation

Coalition Members:

* Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM)
* Transportation For America

Working Group:

* Federal Policy Working Group