February 2, 2009
Public Transit Representatives Testify in House Hearings
“Public transportation investment, energy-efficient land use policies, and other strategies that promote transportation choices are proven ways to reduce emissions from the transportation sector,” said Fred Hansen, general manager of the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon in Portland, when he testified at a Jan. 27 hearing before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) chaired the hearing on “Public Transportation, Energy Reduction, and Environmental Sustainability in Surface Transportation.”
Hansen cited statistics showing that public transit already saves 4.2 billion gallons of fuel and 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions a year, while supporting two million jobs.
“The potential for greater green dividends from public transportation in America is vast if appropriate public transportation is made available in every community,” he continued. “If we are serious about achieving energy security and addressing climate change, America should set a minimum goal of doubling the market share for public transportation by 2020 and achieving, by 2045, a public transportation market share equal to that in the European Union.”
He offered examples of how this approach has worked in the Portland area, with efforts dating back to the 1970s that have led to more efficient land use planning and improved compliance with federal air quality standards.
Infrastructure and Job Creation
Representatives of a transit bus manufacturer and a public transit agency board testified before the full T&I Committee at a Jan. 22 hearing on “Infrastructure Investment: Ensuring an Effective Economic Recovery Package.” The hearing, chaired by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), included testimony from individuals from all modes of infrastructure, including highways; bridges; rail; aviation; ports; waterways; wastewater treatment facilities; and federal buildings.
John Marinucci, senior executive with New Flyer, noted that his company sustains or creates one job for every $24,600 in incremental funding, and works with more than 200 component suppliers that provide products to each bus it builds. New Flyer has ongoing relationships with 240 transit authorities, including 19 of the 25 largest agencies in North America.
Carole Brown, chair of the Chicago Transit Authority Board of Directors, cited the importance of maintaining a healthy transit system for the entire region it serves, adding, “If we don’t receive an infusion of funds soon to build upon our repair work, then our work will be for naught, the slow zones will return, and those people who did give transit a try will return to their cars.” She reported that the agency has numerous unfunded needs to bring service to a state of good repair, since the oldest elevated rail line in the CTA system dates back to 1897.