Are you concerned with transit and transit funding in MO? Citizens for Modern Transit believes now is the time to make the case for transit funding in MO. The facts show investment in transit increases access to jobs, education and healthcare; creates development opportunities; and provides reinvestment in disadvantaged areas of the state. However, Missouri’s record for funding transit is dismal.
- Missouri ranks 44th in public transportation funding among the 50 states.
- Of the states that rank below us, four receive no state funding for transit: AL, AZ, HI, and UT. NH received $.04 and Nevada $.01 per capita.
- Missouri spends a mere 9 cents ($0.09) per capita on public transportation funding.
- In 2011, MO’s per capita investment was $0.50, an 82% decline in 2 years.
- People in literally every county in Missouri rely on public transportation for access to medical care, school, jobs, and other essential services.
- Missouri is one of a few states that has public transportation – whether an OATS or SMTS bus – in every county.
- According to the American Public Transit Association, for every dollar invested in transit projects there is a $4 return for the state.
- But last year Missouri public transportation providers received little more than $500,000 for transit operations from the state. That’s $500,000 split among 34 different transit providers across the state. When it comes time to apply for Federal matching grants, Missourians have nothing to offer as a match.
- Transit provides jobs in MO. The 34 transit providers in the state employ thousands in both MO’s urban and rural communities.
The question arises every year whether the State of Missouri will step up for transit. So far, not yet. While discussions continue about possible increases in the gas tax (by the way, these increases would have no impact on transit funding due to limitations in Missouri constitutional language to roads and bridges) to a proposal floated to use General Revenue funds for transportation (there are no restrictions on these funds so transit would be eligible), there is still no plan in place for a long-term funding strategy for TRANSIT and total transportation. There are 34 transit providers in MO, and all are in need of capital and operating funding to give them the opportunity to do an even better job for Missouri and its economy.
So why bring this up? Over and over again, we hear from legislators at the State Capitol, they don’t hear from their constituents that transit is important. We have an opportunity right now to do just that. The Forward through Ferguson report identified a state funding plan for transit was a signature priority to increasing racial and socioeconomic equity. There is a new long-term federal transportation bill in place, the FAST Act. It contains funding for transit – however that funding comes with a required 50:50 match, another reason to fill the state funding hole. Missouri has transit moving forward to demonstrate the positive impact to our communities with the opening of the Kansas City Streetcar on May 6, the Loop Trolley in St. Louis under construction, a new Transit Center in North St. Louis improving access to that area, a future new MetroLink Statin at Cortex, and OATS celebrating 45 years of service in the rural and urban communities. There is an opportunity to make a difference:
- Contact your state Senator or Representative about transit’s impact in your community and let them know it is imperative they support a long-term strategy for funding transit and total transportation.
- Contact Governor Nixon and ask him to support a State Funding Plan for Transit, one of the signature priorities, from the Forward Through Ferguson Report which he commissioned.
- Join CMT and the Missouri Public Transit Association in Jefferson City on March 16 for Transportation Day.
- Contact the new MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna and let him know you hope to see total transportation and transit as part of his agenda for MoDOT moving forward.
- Reach out to your local elected officials and ask them to look at a regional plan for transit; identifying priority projects for the region.
The economic future of the State of Missouri is in the hands of our elected officials. Funding for public transit is critical and must move forward if our region, and this state, are to expand and grow. Transit needs to be everywhere, for everybody, everyday.