Support Needed Investment in Transit, Rail
and Put Americans to Work
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I urge you to support the Nadler-DeFazio amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) which will be considered today on the House floor. I also ask that you vote no on an amendment by Rep. Flake to cut funding for Amtrak.
The Nadler-DeFazio amendment would increase transit funding by $3 billion. These funds will put people to work, retain current jobs and make needed transit investments to spur additional economic growth. The additional $3 billion will be distributed through existing Federal Transit Administration programs with $1.5 billion allocated for New Starts and $1.5 billion for the Transit Capital Assistance formula program. This will bring the total funding for transit into line with the proposal offered by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar and will support a mode of transportation critical to the economic growth of our nation. Specifically, funds can be used to buy commuter trains, energy efficient buses, station improvements and facility upgrades.
Transit agencies are in desperate need of immediate financial assistance and will not be able to maintain existing service and prudently expand without additional federal funds. Ridership is reaching levels unmatched in five decades. Americans took 10 billion trips on public transportation in 2007 and while ridership numbers for all of 2008 are not yet available, every statistic indicates it will set another record.
The Flake amendment to cut funding for Amtrak makes absolutely no sense. Like transit, Amtrak is setting record ridership levels and needs continued government support to meet the requirements we place on our nation’s national passenger rail system.
Investing in public transit and rail will make a strong economic recovery bill even more effective. Transit agencies and Amtrak provide over 415,000 stable jobs in all parts of the country. Furthermore, public transit systems and rail offer an energy-efficient transportation option reducing our dependence on foreign oil and at the same time provide working families with an economical commuting alternative.
For these reasons, I urge you to vote for the Nadler-DeFazio amendment and against the Flake amendment. If you have any questions about this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or Brendan Danaher at 628-9262.