The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) July 9 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Urban Mass Transportation Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to achieve, in his words, “better systems for getting our people to work and home again — and getting them there with speed and safety and economy and comfort.”
“Fifty years ago, Congress and President Johnson took action to bolster our nation’s public transit systems at a time when more and better transportation choices were desperately needed in America’s cities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, with transit ridership growing nationwide — in urban, suburban, and rural communities alike — our GROW AMERICA Act is another historic opportunity to usher in a new era for public transportation.”
The Act, signed into law on July 9, 1964, created the foundation for the federal, state and local partnerships that have improved and expanded the nation’s public transportation systems — establishing a program of federal financial assistance that creates ladders of opportunity for millions of Americans daily in metropolitan and rural areas.
“Over the last half century, we have seen the enormous benefits of federal investments in public transportation in cities from Boston to San Diego, in rural communities from Nebraska to Missouri — all of which spur billions of dollars in economic development and create much-needed transportation choices,” said Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “Continued investments in public transportation will create jobs, revitalize communities, and create new opportunities for hard-working families.”
The landmark 1964 Act provided $375 million in capital assistance over a three-year period for established bus, rail, and streetcar systems. The first round of grants helped the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to modernize its rail stations, the City of Cleveland to extend rail service to Hopkins International Airport, and the City of Vallejo, California, to purchase new transit buses. The bill also laid the groundwork for establishing the Urban Mass Transportation Administration, the agency that would later become known as the FTA.
To ensure continued access to safe and reliable public transportation for future generations, the Obama Administration recently unveiled the GROW AMERICA Act, a bold plan that would provide $302 billion over the next four years, including $72 billion for transit, to address an aging transportation network and a growing population.