Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Federal Funding

Eight Senate Dems Offer $2B Plan for Emergency Transit Operating Aid

Transit agencies forced to raise fares or cut service to close budget gaps would be eligible for $2 billion in emergency operating funds under legislation unveiled today by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and seven other Democratic senators, including two members of the party's leadership.

harry_reid_christopher_dodd_max_baucus_charles_schumer_richard_durbin_2009_8_4_16_40_23.jpgSens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), left, Charles Schumer (D-NY), right, and Dick Durbin (D-IL), second from right, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). (Photo: AP)

The transit operating bill would authorize $2 billion in federal grants aimed at helping local transit agencies reverse already-imposed service cuts, fare increases, or worker layoffs -- provided that those changes were forced by a shortfall in state or local transport budgets that took effect after January 1, 2009. Any agency planning future service cuts or fare hikes could use their grant money to stave off those moves until September 2011.

"While
families continue to struggle to make ends meet, the last thing we should do is
make it harder and more expensive for people to get to work," Dodd said in a statement. "This bill will
prevent disruptive service cuts and help put money back in the pockets of
families when they need it most."

Those transit agencies not pursuing service cuts, fare hikes, or layoffs would be allowed to use the extra federal money for maintenance or repair of existing infrastructure. The transit operating funds would be distributed according to existing formulas, but the authorizing nature of the bill means that the money will also need to be appropriated in a separate piece of legislation.

Notably, the bill's authorization remains in effect until September 2011, giving lawmakers more than a year to find suitable appropriations vehicles to which the operating aid bill can be attached.

In addition, the legislation's short-term nature meets the conditions set by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which had endorsed extra operating aid with the proviso that it not become a permanent fixture of the federal transit program.

Transportation for America (T4A), an infrastructure policy reform group that counts APTA as a member, hailed the bill's release.

“With demand for public
transportation service at its highest level in over 50 years, Congress must act
to protect Americans who rely on transit from service cuts and fare hikes that
threaten their ability to reach jobs and daily necessities," T4A director James Corless said in a statement. "This act will help
to preserve an economically essential service with a one-time,
emergency infusion that will help to save jobs and access to jobs."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

SUV Driver Kills Girl, 3, in Harlem, Wounds Mom And Young Brothers

The girl's death marks another grim entry into a crisis of pedestrian traffic deaths this year.

July 12, 2024

Moped and E-Bike Safety Legislation Becomes State Law

Retailers must register mopeds at the point of sale, in addition to giving new owners safety information, under new legislation signed by Gov. Hochul on Thursday.

July 12, 2024

Roadway Dining May See Dramatic Decline Under Eric Adams As Deadline Looms

Fewer than two dozen restaurants are in the pipeline for roadside seating, according to public records.

July 12, 2024

Opinion: Congestion Pricing Is A Compromise

Alternatives paths to cut congestion and pollution and fund the MTA make congestion tolls look like a cheap parlor trick.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Department of Victim Blaming Edition

Traffic deaths in the city are on pace to reach their highest number since at least 2013 — and DOT is reportedly blaming "jaywalking." Plus more news.

July 12, 2024
See all posts