Public Transit takes major hit in Trump Administration's "Skinny" Budget Outline
On March 16 Trump administration officials released the outline of what they termed a "skinny" federal budget. Others, including transit professionals from every part of the United States said it was downright anorexic because the document called for a 13 percent cut in spending for the Department of Transportation.
While the overall reduction in spending was disturbing in light of the fact that federal funding for transit was already well below the level required to meet growing demand for service, the hits taken by the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Program (New Starts) and the DOT's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program were especially troubling because they had provided funding for a number of important and innovative projects in Ohio and were being relied upon to do even more in the future.
"We're barely hanging on. It's just going to make the existing problems even worse," said Kirt Conrad, president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and CEO of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority when he learned about the planned reductions.
"It really potentially cuts future transit expansions in the country in general. It's not just Ohio; in the whole country, public transit is at risk," Conrad said. "In Ohio, without the federal support, I do not see those expansions."
“Losing federal funds after losing state Medicaid MCO sales tax funding will make operations even more challenging for systems across the state. "Access to public transit is just getting worse, not better, in Ohio," said Conrad.
The value of and need for New Starts and TIGER is clearly demonstrated by the scope and importance of the projects the programs funded. New Starts provided most of the funding for Cleveland RTA’s highly successful and widely-hailed HealthLine which runs along Euclid Avenue. Since 2009, transit systems across the state have applied for and received more than $62 million in TIGER grants.
Because the programs and federal transportation funding in general, are crucial to the future growth of transit in Ohio, OPTA, the American Public Transit Association, other state associations, and public interest groups are asking the Trump Administration and Congress to reject the steep cuts called for in the "skinny" federal budget outline, to appropriate the additional funding needed to ensure that systems across the country can meet the ever-growing demand for transit service, and to invest in a much-needed and long overdue infrastructure revitalization program that will strengthen public transit and create millions of good paying jobs.
Send a loud and clear message to D.C. by signing our online petition or by contacting federal officials directly via phone or email. To look up and contact your member of Congress click here. Contact Senator Brown here, Senator Portman here, and President Trump here.
FEDERAL FUNDING | FAST FACTS
In a recent poll more than 75% of Americans said they favor increased federal funding for transit.
Meeting the current and future demands for public transit carries a price tag of $88 billion.
The federal transportation budget is now slightly more than $12.6 billion per year.
TIGER and New Start grants have provided funding for a number of Ohio's most innovative and successful transit projects.
A change in state tax law will erase millions of dollars in funding for transit and could result in service cuts, fare increases, and other negative impacts. OPTA's working hard to find a solution. Click here to for the latest news about this critical issue and to join in our effort to solve this fiscal dilemma.
Every dollar invested in public transit generates four dollars in activity in the general economy. That means the $900,000,000 spent on transit in Ohio generates $3.6 billion in sales of goods and services ranging from steel to tires to software--and it could be billions more if we fully fund our transit agencies.
The Trump Administration's recently released budget blueprint calls for drastic cuts in transit funding. Learn more, then contact your legislator and urge them to invest in America's future by supporting public transportation.
Experts agree: the demand for transit will explode in the years ahead. Are we prepared to make the investments needed to keep up and keep our state and nation growing? View blueprints for the future then make your voice heard in Columbus and Washington.
Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans utilize public transit every day, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, commuters and students. Check out the many ways transit improves the quality of life in our biggest cities, small towns, and rural communities.
Transit's commitment to the use of alternative fuels and green energy is driving research and development, business growth, and job creation in a wide array of industries that will power the economy in the 21st Century.