Monday, February 13, 2012

Transit Leaders Decry Federal Funding Bill

Leaders of six Puget Sound region transit agencies today spoke out against a U.S. House bill that would eliminate the Mass Transit Account portion of federal highway funds, instead putting the transit money into a general fund account. The bill automatically reduces the size of the transit funds and lumps it in with other "alternative transportation" funding modes. Plus, the funding would not be guaranteed, as it has been for the past 30 years.

"We have been pushing our state and federal leaders for increased funding to preserve and restore service. H.R. 7 goes in the opposite direction, reducing transit funding and, very importantly, putting the only federal money we could rely upon in jeopardy," said Community Transit's Acting CEO Todd Morrow.

Community Transit received about $10 million, or about nine percent of its operating budget in 2011 from the federal Mass Transit Account. Nearly half of that helps support operations. If that support were to go away, or even be made uncertain, Community Transit would need to fill that funding hole with its local sales tax revenue, which could mean more service cuts, possibly as much as 9 percent of the service left after Feb. 20.

On that day, the latest service cuts due to economic shortfalls will be implemented. All together, Community Transit will be operating 37 percent less bus service than it did two years ago. Further cuts in federal funding, as proposed under H.R. 7, could add more cuts to service and jobs.

H.R. 7 passed out of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee last week and is still under consideration by the full House.

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