TSTC: Congress Must Avert the National Transit Crisis

Service cuts and fare hikes are on the way in the tri-state area and across the country. From left: A bus stop to be cut in NYC, NJ Transit riders at a March public hearing on planned fare hikes and cuts, a bus on a route slated for cancellation in Atlanta, GA.

In Sunday’s Hartford Courant, Tri-State’s Ya-Ting Liu makes the case for emergency federal support for transit agencies in the form of the Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010 (S 3412), which would provide $2 billion for transit agencies and avert job-killing service cuts and fare hikes. She references the plight of transit riders across the nation, who are losing service at the time when it is most needed:

Across the country, 84 percent of public transit systems have raised fares, cut service or both — at a time when record level number of Americans are relying on mass transit as a more affordable travel choice to access jobs, education, health care and opportunity. For some of the most vulnerable Americans — including seniors and those with low incomes — public transportation is the only way to access these essential services.

States and localities traditionally bear the responsibility for transit service, and rightfully so, but with so many of their own financial problems, most haven’t been able to come to riders’ rescue. Given the national crisis, it’s time for the federal government to step in.

Since five tri-state-area senators introduced the Public Transportation Preservation Act two weeks ago, a corresponding bill (HR 5418) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Michael McMahon (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn). Rather than the bill being passed on its own, however, the bill language is more likely to be attached to another bill, such as small business tax credit legislation scheduled for this week. But even jobs-related legislation is moving at a snail’s pace through the paralyzed Senate.

Transportation For America is calling on its members to ask their Senators to support this bill (as mentioned, five of the six senators in the tri-state area support the bill already, the exception being Sen. Joe Lieberman).

Photo collage: From left – Andrea Bernstein/WNYC, Zoe Baldwin/TSTC, Transportation for America.

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