Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) along with 30 Members of Congress introduced a resolution declaring that public transit is a national priority which requires funding equal to the level of highway funding.
Currently, Congress uses a 40-year precedent to determine funding for highways and public transportation. Since 1982, approximately 80 percent of federal transportation program funding has been allocated to highways, while only 20 percent has been allocated to public transit. When this 80-20 split was decided, it was intended to be a user fee, but since 2008 over $144 billion in general taxpayer dollars have been used to supplement dwindling gas tax revenues for highway and transit spending. This split is out of step with the current needs of our country and leaves too many reliant on deteriorating transit systems with infrequent and unreliable service.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, public transit has been a lifeline for communities across the nation, providing transportation to the essential workers who are fighting to keep us safe and healthy. The pandemic has only highlighted what many of us have known for years, public transit is a public good, and its continued disinvestment risks its collapse. I am proud to join Representatives Garcia and Pressley in introducing this legislation to help ensure our public transit systems have the necessary funding to keep running,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.
“Public transit is a lifeline—for working people, marginalized communities, and our entire economy. Decades-long disinvestment has starved communities of adequate public transportation and created deep, physical barriers to jobs, health care, and education,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “Simply put, breaking the status quo on transit funding is an urgent matter of equity and economic opportunity. Public transit systems like CTA and Pace Bus are the arteries that keep communities like Chicago thriving—keeping our frontline workforce moving even during a pandemic. Our resolution lays out a transformative vision for transportation policy—one that funds transit equitably like the vital public good and force for economic empowerment that it is.”
“Public transit is a public good, and it’s past time our government treats it like one,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “For too long, our federal transportation investments have prioritized highways over public transit, incentivizing travel in private cars which increases traffic congestion, produces pollution, and exacerbates racial and economic inequality. Today, we have an opportunity and an obligation to fundamentally realign our federal transportation policy to center community connectivity and emphasize equity, access, and sustainability. As transportation agencies in my district and across the country face record budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must act swiftly to make the investments in public transit our communities deserve by establishing real funding parity. This is about addressing the damage from this epidemic and committing to the future of our transit systems. I’m proud to stand with Congressman García, Chairman Jeffries, and our colleagues in calling on Congress to do just that.”
“We have never shown the vision or commitment to building a robust transit system that we have shown to highways; and that cannot change so long as we stay wedded to an outdated 1980s approach to transportation spending,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America. “We’re thrilled that Rep. García and so many cosponsors have confronted this broken policy head-on. We urge every lawmaker in Congress to join Rep. García in this fundamental rethink of transportation policy to finally deliver the transportation system Americans deserve and need—one that provides equitable access to economic opportunity and essential services, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and supports a strong national economy.”
“Transit is a critical component of moving to a more sustainable, resilient and equitable transportation system, and its federal funding should reflect that and be on par with highway funding. This resolution is the first step Congress can take to transform our outdated, polluting transportation systems, and get our economy moving again,” said Ann Shikany, State and Federal Policy Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“The Sierra Club supports Congressman García’s resolution to acknowledge frequent and reliable public transportation as the civil right and climate change solution that it is by adequately funding it. We must treat public transit as essential infrastructure—just like roads, bridges, tunnels and utilities—that is crucial to the economic, social, and environmental well-being of our communities,” said Will Anderson, Sierra Club’s Associate Director of Legislative/Administrative Advocacy for the Clean Transportation for All campaign.
The full text of the resolution can be found here.
The following members were original cosponsors of the resolution: Reps. André Carson (IN-7), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Donald M. Payne Jr (NJ-10), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), Scott Peters (CA-52), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-2), Donald S. Beyer (VA-8), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Mark Takano (CA-41), Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (NY-14), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Tom Suozzi (NY-3), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), Henry “Hank” C. Johnson Jr (GA-4), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-1), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Anthony G. Brown (MD-4) , Steve Cohen (TN-9), Bobby L. Rush (IL-1), Mike Quigley (IL-5) , Danny K. Davis (IL-7, Jared Huffman (CA-2), Mark Pocan (WI-2) and James P. McGovern (MA-2).
The resolution is also endorsed by the following organizations: Transportation for America, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Environmental Law and Policy Center, U.S. PIRG, Livable Streets Alliance, Third Way, Disability Rights Education Foundation, Safe Routes Partnership, Shared-Use Mobility Center, Active Transportation Alliance, New Urban Mobility Alliance, Southern Environmental Law Center, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Data for Progress, Green For All, National Association of City Transportation Officials (NATCO), Riders Alliance, Illinois Environmental Council, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Partnership for Smart Growth, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Metropolitan Planning Council, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, MassBike, WalkBoston, Boston Center for Independent Living, Transportation for Massachusetts, The Train Campaign, Transportation Working Group of 350MA, and The Wilderness Society.