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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis August 12, 2013
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August Congressional Recess: Time to Connect

Now is the time for public transportation systems and businesses to reach out to their elected officials who are home for the traditional August break.

Congress adjourned in early August without coming to agreement on the appropriations bills that fund federal public transportation programs. Before leaving for more than a month, both the Senate and the House briefly considered Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations bills for federal ­transportation programs. In both cases, however, members interrupted their consideration before the bills could be completed.

As a result, Congress will probably be forced to enact a Continuing Resolution by Oct. 1 for most, if not all, FY 2014 appropriations bills. There will probably not be enough revenue to support federal public transit and highway spending at even current levels at the beginning of FY 2015, when MAP-21 expires, on Sept. 30, 2014. 

Vacationing members of Congress are sure to hear from their constituents about immigration, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and other issues. They should also hear from supporters of public transportation and infrastructure investment, and they should be invited to visit public transit agencies, ride buses and trains, and talk with riders about the value of public transportation to local communities and economic development.

It is important for public transit professionals to tell their elected officials that there is a problem with federal funding of public transportation. Here are a few talking points public transit members can share with their members of Congress:

* There will not be enough funding to cover the $53 billion worth of public transit and highway outlays in 2015.

* Federal public transportation funding levels have essentially remained flat since 2009. It’s time to invest in public transportation and infrastructure.

* Public transportation is a $57 billion a year industry that directly supports more than 400,000 jobs and indirectly supports an additional 1.9 million jobs.

* Public transit agencies will need to spend more on buses, trains, and other capital if they are to continue to provide high-quality public transportation to the people they serve—people who are also voters.

* Public transit systems know how to stretch the revenue they receive from the farebox, as well as from state, local, and federal sources.

In addition, business members should also invite their elected representatives to their facilities so members of Congress can see first-hand the impact of public transportation’s robust supply chain and the jobs it creates and sustains.


Grassroots advocacy at work. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), left, recently visited Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC’s production facility in Huntington, IN. The facility—a major employer in Huntington for more than three decades—remanufactures commercial vehicle compressors, air dryers, valves, and brake shoes for public transit vehicles. At right is Chris Camp, Bendix operations manager-remanufacturing.

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