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July 20, 2012

Public Transportation on solid footing, will lawmakers face the music?

by Alex Roman - Also by this author

Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama signed the new MAP-21 surface transportation bill, funding transportation programs and giving public transit a much needed sense of stability, even if it’s for only two years. While the funding levels may not be where most would like them to be and the actual dedicated funding source is still up in the air, the fact that Congress got a bill done is great.

Likewise, California’s lawmakers approved SB 1029, which will create thousands of new jobs in California by modernizing regional transportation systems and linking them to the state’s future high-speed rail line. The $4.7 billion investment will be matched by an additional $7.9 billion in federal and local dollars for statewide improvements to transportation in California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed that bill into law on Thursday.

What both of these turn of events point out is that despite all the political muckraking going on at both the federal and state level, all the lawmakers involved realize the importance public transit plays in the growth and stability here in the U.S.

The fact that there is a relatively small group crying foul every time money is being spent where it is not their preference doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s going on. As mentioned earlier, while the industry does have a sense of optimism after being given some stability, it is still very disappointed that lawmakers will not simply raise the gas tax or come up with a solution that can be taken seriously. 

So, with two years left to seriously address the true issue of funding public transit, does this recent turn of events give you optimism that they will find one before MAP-21 expires?  

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Rail systems driving neighborhood tensions," here.

Alex Roman

Managing Editor

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