On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a $154 billion jobs bill, or what’s being called a second stimulus package, by a vote of 217 to 212.
The package is not expected to be taken up by the Senate until early next year, but if it goes through, public transportation will likely have another pool of funds to draw from, since the current bill enables large transit systems to use 10 percent of the $6.15 billion in formula funding for operations. It also includes $800 million for Amtrak.
The original purpose of the first stimulus package was to create jobs. As of now, it is unclear as to how successful the attempt has been, but public transportation advocates have said there are enough “shovel ready” projects to put thousands to work immediately.
This, of course, is good news if the legislation passes. What is interesting is that this opportunity arises while the public transportation industry continues to struggle with budget deficits, forcing them to cut both employees and routes.
With that said, I was wondering what some of you thought was more important: Putting more money into transportation construction projects, or getting funds that will essentially act as a band-aid for hemorrhaging budgets?