Federal Government Is Getting Serious On Mass Transit Financing

One of the rallying cries from this blog & many others like it is for all levels of government to get serious with financing mass transit throughout the country. Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal looks into this as the U.S. Senate looks to increase funds for mass transit through the “Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008“. Christopher Conkey of the Wall Street Journal has more on this issue in his report:

Momentum is building in Congress to increase funding for public transportation as transit agencies struggle to accommodate increased demand from Americans seeking to escape high gas prices.

The Senate banking committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine how the government can strengthen mass-transit options as a way to reduce dependence on imported oil. Meanwhile, House and Senate leaders debating a new energy bill are considering a range of incentives and new funding for transit agencies.

On Monday, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said a measure that would provide as much as $2 billion in grants and other funding for public transportation appears likely to be included in energy legislation that could be voted on next week. The House has already approved a bill that would provide an additional $1.7 billion to transit agencies over two years. If Congress fails to pass a new energy package this month before adjourning for its election-season recess, a transit-funding boost could still be included in an end-of-session budget resolution.

The legislative push comes as high gas prices are spurring Americans to drive less and use public transportation more. Data being released Tuesday by the American Public Transportation Association show the number of riders on mass-transit systems is growing at an accelerating clip. After rising 2.5% in 2007 from 2006, public-transportation use increased 3.4% in the first quarter of 2008 from the same period a year earlier, and 5.2% in the April-to-June period.

The increased demand is straining many transit agencies, which are already coping with higher prices for fuel, steel and other commodities.

Click here for the complete report.

As I’ve stated previously, it is refreshing to see the government take a serious interest in helping fund mass transit. This for me goes beyond my region as I understand how vital mass transit is regardless of what state you reside in. This country is filled with too much pro auto agendas spearheaded by people with the clueless belief that most people have no interest in mass transit. However if these agenda ridden fools would take a second to actually understand a basic concept, they would see how flawed their logic is. How can anyone expect people to be interested in taking mass transit if you don’t give them the option to do so. You can’t ride what does not exist.

When you think about it, it is quite sad to see that it took ridiculously high gas prices for mass transit to possibly get the funding it deserves. However I’m at the point that I & many other mass transit advocates will take any victory we can regardless of how we got it.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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