From Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission:
PRTC and other public transportation providers across the country are facing a serious financial threat from the funding proposal being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House is currently debating how much it will invest in public transportation and how to pay for it. The outcome could impact PRTC's services and fares.
Both the House and U.S. Senate have released their own versions of transportation reauthorization bills, and the House bill in particular threatens long term federal funding for public transportation. The House proposal would divert federal motor fuels tax revenue away from public transportation so it could be used for highways instead.
Since the Reagan administration, 2.83 cents of the 18.4 cent federal motor fuels tax has been dedicated to public transportation. The provision has endured nearly 30 years through a succession of Republican and Democratic administrations because public transportation:
- Is an integral part of the surface transportation system; and
- Benefits riders and non-riders by virtue of congestion relief, improved air quality, and a lessened dependence on foreign oil.
Instead of continuing to dedicate some of the fuels tax revenues to transit, the House bill proposes to fund public transportation out of general fund revenues for five years. This presents several problems:
- The funding would not be guaranteed because appropriations of general fund revenues would be subject to annual votes;
- Because the funding would not be guaranteed, any transit agency that attempted to borrow money would be forced to pay higher interest rates at a time when budget resources are already strained; and
- At the end of the five years, continued federal funding of public transportation would be in doubt.
How would this affect you? PRTC receives between $6 million and $8 million in federal funds annually for capital and operating expenses. This equals 15% - 20% of PRTC's annual budget. Because our local government sponsors would be unable to compensate for such a large budget gap, any reduction in federal funding would require PRTC to raise fares and/or cut services.
The House reportedly could schedule a vote on the bill as early as the week of February 13, so we have only a limited time to head off the threatened loss of long term funding!
We urge you to contact members of the U.S. House and ask them to take a different approach to funding public transportation, as PRTC and many others have already done. Letters that can be emailed directly to your U.S. House Representative are available through the website of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Send your letter now or learn more about the issue by visiting APTA's website. Click here to see a copy of the letter that the PRTC Board of Commissioners sent last week to Virginia's Congressional delegation.
You also may want to contact other members of the U.S. House of Representatives who represent Virginia. Here's a directory of Virginia's representatives and their contact information.
And here's contact information for those with leadership positions in the House:
Thank you for taking the time to help save funding for public transportation!