Yesterday marked a national day of action "Don't X Out Public Transit" as public transit riders and advocates from across the country join together to highlight the severe effects a drastic cut to federal transit funding would have on public transit riders, their communities and jobs. An estimated, 620,000 jobs will be lost if the proposed federal funding cuts becomes law.
Despite the recent six-month extension of the surface transportation authorization bill, which will authorize public transportation funding at current levels until March 2012, the House of Representatives has proposed to cut more than one-third of federal funding for public transportation.
Yesterday's events, coupled with a new survey released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) highlight the dire consequences of proposed federal funding cuts on public transportation riders and systems around the country.
The survey shows that safe and reliable public transportation is at risk. If these cuts are implemented, public transit riders can expect service cutbacks, service delays and overcrowding, as systems will be forced to reduce service, lay-off workers and forego maintenance projects and curtail critical service improvements. The analysis estimates that over the six-year authorization period, 620,000 private and public sector jobs would be lost and $17.2 billion in transportation projects would be foregone.
"A one-third cut in public transit dollars will be catastrophic on many fronts — it will prevent people from getting to their jobs, schools and doctors, it will hit Americans' pocketbooks directly due to fare increases, it will eliminate thousands of jobs, it will lead to delays and overcrowding and it will postpone needed repairs in many systems," said John Robert Smith, co-chair of Transportation for America, president and CEO of Reconnecting America. "In this critical time in our nation's economy with unemployment at record levels, the federal government needs to maintain transit funding at current levels. Cuts to public transportation will only be further detrimental to an already weakened economy."
"Don't X Out Public Transit Day" is the combined effort of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the National Alliance of Public Transit Advocates (NAPTA), Reconnecting America, Transportation for America (T4), the Transportation Equity Network, Transport Workers Union (TWU) and transit systems and advocates across the country. The rallies and events throughout the country show the need for more investment in public transit, not less.
"Today's demonstrations reflect the frustration and anxiety felt by regular people facing the loss of the transportation they rely on every day," said Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union. "It is disingenuous for public officials to claim they are against raising taxes while they are raising transit fares all over the country. At the very same time they are cutting bus and train service."
"We are making the traveling public, and transit users aware that without proper funding bus services will be dramatically cut preventing workers, or those with no other available transportation from getting to work," said James C. Little international president, Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO. "Instead of cutting service we should be building our transportation infrastructure, and embrace clean, efficient transportation technology."