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Public Transit Leaders Reject Administration's Funding Cuts, Support Bipartisan Efforts to Increase Investments

The Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the FY 2019 budget would put more than 800,000 jobs at risk and reduce economic output by $90 billion, according to public transportation leaders participating in a press conference at APTA’s Legislative Conference.

The potentially threatened jobs include 502,000 in construction and related areas and 300,000 longer term jobs associated with economic productivity.

“The proposed budget cuts to public transit will affect accessibility for millions of Americans across the nation that rely on our bus and rail systems to get to and from jobs, healthcare and education,” said APTA Chair and Jacksonville Transportation Authority Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. “Without this funding, projects that rely on Capital Investment Grants (CIG) will not be implemented and communities will suffer.”

Overall, these proposed cuts would result in a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output, according to a new analysis, “The Economic Implications of Proposed Public Transit Capital Funding Cuts.”

“Cutting investments in America’s public transit infrastructure to fund an infrastructure initiative is like robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “However, we are encouraged that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support increased investments in public transit that will boost our economy and the quality of life in our local communities. We are calling on Congress to reject these budget cuts.”

The administration proposes cuts to the CIG and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) programs, Amtrak, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s budget. The cuts to the CIG program would put 53 new start projects at risk – a total of $51.7 billion in investments in the nation’s public transit infrastructure.

The leaders outlined the impact these proposed cuts would have on their respective communities. Peter Rogoff, president and CEO, Sound Transit, Seattle, said Puget Sound taxpayers have adopted the most ambitious transit expansion program in the nation. “They reasonably expect the continuation of the longtime federal funding partnership that is needed to complete transit extensions on time and to accommodate the 1.2 million new jobs that we know are coming to the region in the years ahead,” he said.

Katharine Eagan Kelleman, CEO, Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, said in her county, the CIG would be used to make more efficient connections to downtown Pittsburgh and neighborhoods that are home to several major hospitals and universities, allowing “America’s Most Livable City to continue its evolution into a major ­technology center for our region.”

Participants in the news conference, from left: Paul Wiedefeld, David Genova, Katherine Kelleman, Paul P. Skoutelas, Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Peter Rogoff, Mike Terry and Carm Basile.

Mike Terry, president and CEO, IndyGo, Indianapolis, said the city’s first rapid transit line, the Red Line, received a Small Starts grant and will help connect nearly 150,000 jobs and 50,000 ­residents in the area. But, he added, “without the catalyst of CIG federal funding in partnership with dedicated local funds, these life-changing projects will not continue to be possible.”

Carm Basile, CEO, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY, said the CIG program is instrumental in helping to build and operate the first BRT line in upstate New York. Without continued support for the program, he said, “we are facing the harsh reality of not being able to meet customer demand and provide additional innovative services which are a necessity for transportation systems across the country to help expand public transportation options, increase connectivity, reduce congestion, and boost economic growth.”

Paul Wiedefeld, WMATA general manager and CEO, said federal funding is critical to the safety and reliability of the transit system, which supports a million trips each weekday in the nation’s capital, “At a time when many of our nation’s transit systems are falling dangerously behind on maintenance due to funding challenges, we need more investment, not less,” he added.

David Genova, general manager and CEO, Regional Transportation District, Denver, said his region has been transformed by the investments made in its transit system, a substantial portion of which is from federal funding. “Colorado is experiencing firsthand the job creation, growth and billions of dollars of private economic development that have resulted from local and federal partnerships on our projects. Threats to federal transit funding could have direct consequences for our local population, which supports our agency’s efforts to complete remaining projects on the voter-approved FasTracks initiative and deliver the service they expect and deserve,” he said.


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