APTA Reaction to GOP Platform on Public Transportation

July 19, 2016
Statement on GOP platform on public transportation by APTA acting President & CEO Richard A. White.

“On behalf of the 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) I strongly oppose the Republican platform that would phase out the federal transit program. I am extremely disappointed that the platform fails to continue the important federal role in supporting public transportation.  Since 1983, under President Ronald Reagan, fuels tax revenues have been dedicated to public transit through the Mass Transit Account of the surface transportation legislation.  This proposal would undo more than 30 years of overwhelming support for dedicated federal investment in public transit. 

Transportation is the backbone of an economy.  Mayors of cities across the country know that public transportation is crucial to helping make their cities competitive.  Additionally, public transportation helps people commute to work.  In fact, nearly 60 percent of all trips taken are for work commutes.  Last year, 10.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation, no small figure. 

The public transportation industry is currently underfunded. Having no federal funds would be devastating, not only to the millions of Americans who use public transportation and to the employers who depend on it for their employees, but also for communities of all sizes that need it for a thriving economy and quality of life.  

Also, the platform position against any increase in the federal gas tax is not supported by APTA.  The federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and consequently, its purchasing power has gone down by more than 37 percent.

We need a well-funded transportation system that includes public transportation.  In 2013, the annual capital spending on public transit – from all levels of government – was $17.7 billion.  Of that figure, $7.4 billion came from the federal government.  According to a report by APTA and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), an annual investment of $43 billion for public transportation is necessary to improve system performance and condition.  And let’s not forget that the Federal Transit Administration has said that there is a one-time $86 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and replacement needs.”