President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act in 1964. Photo: FTA
Today, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) marks the 50th anniversary of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964. In celebrating the achievements of public transportation over the last five decades, APTA called on Congress to take action now to address the urgency of the Highway Trust Fund shortfall and provide a solution to the nation’s long-term transportation investment needs.
Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 created the program for federal investment in public transportation systems across the U.S. by providing grants and loans to assist local transportation systems. The federal, state, local and private partnership the act established was key to revitalizing public transit systems that were declining due to disinvestment. It also created an oversight agency, eventually evolving into the Federal Transit Administration.
“Fifty years ago today, Congress took a visionary step in authorizing federal funding for public transportation that has ushered in public transit services that now provide 10.7 billion trips annually and have spurred economic growth for our communities and nation,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “APTA calls on Congress to continue this legacy and take decisive action to address the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account shortfalls this month and work towards passage of a multi-year, well-funded transportation bill in the coming months.
“Just like 1964, it’s time for Congess to demonstrate leadership through a significant, sustained investment in public transportation so that future generations of Americans can rely on public transportation to provide mobility, build communities and power economic opportunity.”
Under the current bill, transportation funding will expire at the end of September. Even before that, unless Congress acts, the Highway Trust Fund is in danger of insolvency this summer and the Mass Transit Account as early as October.
This spring, APTA announced its recommended plan for a $100.4 billion federal transit program over six years, which would create an additional 1.1 million jobs created or sustained annually, $66 billion in business sales generated yearly and $9.5 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue generated each year.
To commemorate the anniversary and stress the importance of continued Congressional leadership on the issue of public transportation, APTA held a Transportation Tuesday program last night featuring Therese McMillan, acting administrator of the Federal Transportation Administration and Richard Sarles, general manager/CEO of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. They highlighted the achievements of public transit throughout the last 50 years and discussed its exciting future.