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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House bill would help restore transit service and jobs, supporters say


On Oct. 13, Reps. Russell Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Steve Latourette (R-Ohio) introduced the Local Flexibility for Transit Assistance Act (H.R. 3200), which supporters say would allow transit systems in areas with more than 7 percent unemployment or high gasoline prices to gain access to federal funds to maintain service and bring back furloughed employees.

The bill was introduced out of the concern that, as more Americans use transit systems, 80 percent of the nation’s budget-strapped mass transit agencies have cut service, raised fares and laid off workers, United Transportation Union (UTU) officials said in a news item posted on the union’s web site.

The UTU and other AFL-CIO transportation unions have been calling for such action for the past several months.

The bill, which was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has attracted 109 co-sponsors.

“This bill would let communities spend a portion of their federal transit dollars to avoid transit fare hikes and service cuts,” said Transportation Equity Network Executive Director Laura Barrett in a prepared statement. “It would also support jobs by helping avert layoffs at transit agencies.”

Yet, although the bill is a “good first step,” the measure alone would not serve as a permanent solution to transit agencies’ fiscal challenges, she added.

“We still need more funding for transit nationwide, and more options for local communities about how to spend their federal transit funding,” said Barrett.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/17/2011