NJ Sens. Menendez and Lautenberg Introduce Emergency Transit Funding Bill
In response to recent fare increases and service cuts at NJ Transit, New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez joined six of their Democratic colleagues to introduce a bill Tuesday that would authorize $2 billion in emergency funding for transit agencies.
The bill is designed to help transit agencies nationwide close funding gaps in operating costs. The agencies would be able to use these funds to reduce fare increases and restore services that were cut after January 2009, or to prevent future service cuts or fare increases through September 2011. Agencies that have not increased rates or cut services and do not plan to do so would be permitted to use the funds for infrastructure improvements.
NJ Transit would receive an estimated $125 million under the bill.
“This measure would provide critical relief to New Jersey’s commuters and transit riders across the country when they need it most,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “Investing in transit will help stem fare hikes and improve service so that working class families can get to work on time and without breaking the bank.” Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said.
Sen. Menendez added, “Cutbacks at NJ Transit has made transit service for New Jerseyans more expensive and less accessible. This is a moment in which we should be investing in our public transportation, not undermining it. Emphasizing mass transit helps rebuild our economy through lower commuting costs, new jobs and cleaner air.”
A lack of transit funding, and the resulting fare hikes and service cuts, are not just a problem in New Jersey. This map compiled by T4 America shows that transit systems across the country are struggling with the same issues, at a time when transit ridership is at historic highs. The American Public Transportation Association reports that since Jan. 1, 2009, 84 percent of public transit systems have either raised fares, cut service or are considering these options.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Link: Eight Senate Dems Offer $2B Plan for Emergency Transit Operating Aid (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)