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Now’s the Time to Save Federal Transit Funding

If Congress proceeds with cuts in the House spending bill, cities including Atlanta may be forced to scale back transit expansion. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It's been clear since Donald Trump was elected and Republicans hung on to majorities in Congress that federal transit funding is at risk. But a phone call to your representative could protect transit in the current round of budget negotiations.

Eliminating federal transit funding was part of the Republicans' 2016 platform, and Trump followed up with a similar proposal in his budget outline.

Now it's up to the legislators in Congress to set real spending policy, and Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America reports that a push to preserve transit funding in the House could make a real difference this month:

While the Senate largely rejected the Trump administration’s request for cuts to programs like TIGER, new transit construction, and passenger rail programs (read our detailed breakdown of the current House/Senate bills here), the House’s version of the 2018 budget eliminated TIGER funding and reduced the transit capital program down near levels that would only fund transit projects that already have signed funding agreements in hand.

This week the House is scheduled to consider their final House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, and there are crucial amendments that could improve the bill by restoring funding for some of these programs — or make the damage far worse.

Here's the T4A breakdown of where the House spending bill currently stands, without amendments:

spending chart
Alignment art tiles on the west approach for Bonita Ave. & Cataract Ave. light rail bridge in San Dimas. Courtesy of Foothill Goldline Construction Authority

A number of amendments that could restore transit and TIGER funding in the House budget have been introduced. Transportation for America is urging people to contact their House reps and tell them to support transit funding.

If transit funding is not restored to baseline levels, projects like Indianapolis's Red Line bus rapid transit and Atlanta's MARTA expansion would likely have to be scaled back.

More recommended reading today: Urban Milwaukee reports that Wisconsin's Republican lawmakers hate the city's streetcar plans, but there's not much they can do to stop it. And City Observatory critiques D.C.'s designation as a "LEED Platinum" city.

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