“I do not advocate going back to federal operating assistance, but I do advocate the position that federal policy should encourage, support, leverage more operating investment at the state and local level.
“Bottom line is, we talk about growing transit, TransitVision 2050 actually talks about quintupling ridership by 2050. It isn’t going to happen without more operating investment,” he maintains. “In so many places, it’s cut, cut, cut. And, right now with the double-edged sword of fuel, there needs to be more things, more consistency, but I don’t feel it’s going to happen without some kind of federal push to encourage that there can still be state and local funding.
“Cities that we serve have budget deficits, have to cut, cut, cut and I don’t expect we will have any luck going to them asking for more money,” Kilcoyne says.
Connecticut has a bi-annual budget and this year they meet to make budget adjustments for FY09. “As in many states, the budget surplus is rapidly disappearing,” Kilcoyne says. He mentions he is hopeful as there still is a bill alive that could get additional money. “The Speaker of the House is behind it, so the good news is that transit is viewed positively and we’ve been able to keep it viewed positively.”
A Collective Effort
While speaking with Kilcoyne about GBTA, he mentions that it is more than any single agency working in a community. “We all just serve our little neck of the woods. If we were not involved, if there isn’t some sort of collective effort, nothing really would ever happen. I think we would be in a much, much weaker state because, let’s face it, legislation at the federal level, at both the state and local level, determines our ability to do our job, out ability to provide services and our ability to grow.
“If we aren’t out there actively participating, actively trying to shape legislation, as well as provide benefits to each other through sharing information,” he says, then pauses and shifts direction. “It’s important to take both a local view as well as the broader view of the region, state and national level.”
He stresses, “My first priority is to run a transit agency and that’s always got to be my first priority. But nonetheless, I do feel I have a responsibility, and we all have a responsibility towards the overall health of the industry.”