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Transit Funding tops list of CMT’s 2021 Policy Agenda

 

Transit funding, regional transit priorities and safety top the list of CMT’s  2021 Policy Agenda . In addition, Missouri transit is delivering $3.6 billion in economic activity each year.  Transit is delivering in Missouri despite the distinct lack of funding. But, the impact could be bigger, better and more profound.   Any increase in investment by the State of Missouri could exponentially change the game in terms of economic return.

FEDERAL

CMT supported the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act which was passed into law in December 2015. In 2020, MPTA supported the CCR that extended the Fast Act one more year.  Key for transportation in the extension is an additional $13.6 billion added to the Highway Trust Fund.  Additional provisions included:

  • An extension of FAST Act funding and provisions from FY 2020 to all of FY 2021.
  • A $3.2 billion transfer to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund.
  • An increase to the “multimodal cap” within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA discretionary grant program from $500 million to $600 million.
  • An extension of 2017 and 2018 Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program obligation deadlines through September 30, 2021.

A new, multi-year transportation bill will be on the agenda for this year. This new legislation is a time for MPTA and its members to make their voices and opinions heard to improve transportation policy and increase transit investment.

STATE

The Cares Act delivered a $248 million lifeline for Missouri Transit providers. Congress crossed the finish line on March 26 with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which including $25 billion in transit funding for rural and urban areas across the country. Bi-State Development in St.  Louis received more than $140 million.

However, state funding for transit is even more critical as the impact of the pandemic continues to take its toll on public transit providers across the state. According to the 2019 Transit Impact Study, public transit delivers in Missouri. There is a total of 34 transit providers in the Missouri. They collectively spend $675 million each year on operations, capital improvements and labor compensation for the 4,500 individuals who are employed at an average salary of $64,200. In addition, public transit is delivering more than $3.6 billion in direct and indirect spending each year.

Priority #1

Support the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission request of $8.4 million for Missouri transit.   This request would include $6.7 million from General Revenue and $1.7 million from the State Transportation Fund.   Currently, state transit funding assistance does not cover the impact of rising maintenance/operating costs of keeping the current systems in good repair. For SFY20, the total core budget was $1,710,875 in State Transportation funds for 34 providers. Funding from General Revenue was zeroed out in 2017.

Priority #2

Every transit provider in the state of Missouri provides paratransit services.  These services are essential for healthcare access, job access, and education.   The costs of these rides range from $12 – $93. Without these services, many in Missouri would not be able to live let alone prosper.   CMT is supporting a per ride subsidy of $5.   This subsidy will provide much needed, predictable funding for MO providers to ensure this service is provided.

Priority #3
CMT supports the continuation of IL State Operating Assistance at $45 million for St. Clair County, IL.

Priority #4

Oppose any efforts to allow conceal and carry on transit and advocate for state-supported law enforcement on transit. In light of the understanding that allowing firearms on public transit may serve as a detriment to ridership and has not been proven to enhance safety and security of the system, many Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) members have opposed any legislation which would allow carrying concealed weapons (CCW) on transit.

LOCAL

  • Support prioritized public transit project(s) determined by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the local metropolitan planning organization, including regional transit projects.
  • Advocate, support and assist in creating local funding mechanism(s)/package for transit funding.
  • Ensure local regional transit system is safe/secure for current and future riders through advocacy for adoption of action items outlined in security audit of MetroLink.
  • Support local legislation/policy promoting development near transit.

 

There are many ways for you to be involved with these efforts as CMT members and transit supporters.

  1. Please contact your legislators now as we head into 2021 to express your interest in transit funding.  There are many new legislators taking office this session and will need to hear from their constituents that transit makes a difference.
  2. Continue reading CMT’s eblast and blog postings that will keep you updated on where things stand.
  3. Call, visit or email your state legislators about the need for a state funding plan for transit
  4. Contact Governor Parson about the need for Missouri to support public transit especially as the Governor calls for bold transportation solutions in Missouri.
  5. Make sure your locally elected officials also hear from you on the importance of transit.
  6. RIDE TRANSIT, and invite others to get on board with you.

Thank you in advance for all you do to make St. Louis a better place to be with Transit.

2021 Policy Agenda CMT copy

 


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