Government officials and advocates across the tri-state area have been voicing opposition to the House transportation bill all day.
If signed into law, the legislation would cut off the dedicated funding that public transportation receives from the national gas tax. Transit aid would have to come from the general fund, which would introduce an annual battle for transportation money.
At Grand Central, Joe Lhota, John Samuelsen, four House members, NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez all spoke about the bill’s potentially disastrous effects.
In New Jersey, Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) emphasized the toll that the bill would take on the economy before calling on the state’s Congressional delegation to oppose the law.
Senator Menendez (D-NJ) held a press conference in praise of the upper chamber’s transportation legislation. The Senate transportation bill would give New Jersey an additional $63 million in federal transit funding and continue to use national gas tax revenues to fund public transportation programs.
Former New Jersey Department of Transportation head Kris Kolluri also sharply critiqued the bill.
“If the gas tax funding for mass transit is not restored, New Jersey will have to rely on Congress’ good will each year to fund critical safety improvements, which is tantamount to a wing and a prayer,” he wrote in a Star-Ledger op-ed on Sunday.
The Star-Ledger editorial board joined Kolluri in condeming the House bill, which they believe “threatens to undo decades of New Jersey transit growth.”
“Without guaranteed federal funding, NJ Transit and other agencies will find it more difficult to plan growth and maintenance. Fares would rise, while equipment and infrastructure suffers, driving rail and bus riders back to their cars,” reads the editorial.
The Hartford Courant’s editors reached the same conclusion: the House transportation bill cannot pass.
“If Republicans were in tune with the rest of the country, and not just the oil industry, they would increase federal funding for transit. But they are going the other way…let us hope these bills do not survive the trip to the Senate,” the Courant wrote.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also denounced the legislation and over 600 groups have signed on to a Transportation for America letter that demands a better bill.