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Transit funding tops list of Legislative Priorities in 2018

metrolinkstationTransit funding, regional transit priorities and development top the list of CMT’s legislative priorities for FY18.  Citizens for Modern Transit recently released its FY18 Legislative Priorities. The economic future of the State of Missouri is tied directly to our commitment to funding of the State’s infrastructure.

Investment in public transit throughout Missouri delivers proven economic results, and promotes private development and reinvestment in both rural and urban under-resourced communities. Community leaders across the State have identified public transit priorities that will increase service and yield significant positive economic returns. These plans will improve access to opportunity, attract talent, and create thousands of jobs .  CMT will be advocating for local, state and federal policies and funding for operating and capital for transit to provide an opportunity for these plans to come to fruition. In addition, safety and security continue to top the list of local priorities for the organization.

FEDERAL INVESTMENT
CMT supported the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act which was passed into law in December 2015. This was the first long-term federal transportation bill since 2005. There were no cuts to overall funding levels from the prior bill, MAP-21. The current bill authorizes $230 billion for highways, $61 billion for public transportation, $10 billion for passenger rail and $5 billion for highway safety programs. However, the funds available under the Bus Capital and No-Lo Emission programs are significantly lower than the needs demonstrate. In addition, the future of federal funding is uncertain under the new Administration. While advocates continue to push for federal funding for capital and operating, programs like TIGER and New Starts are possibly on the chopping block. MO needs its own plan for raising additional transportation revenue, both to control its own infrastructure needs and to show its ability to provide state matching dollars to attract any federal funding available.

STATE TRANSIT INVESTMENT

Priority #1

Support the restoration of Transit Operating Assistance to the baseline FY 2002 transit funding levels of $8,367,997 and expand from there. Currently, State Transit Funding Assistance does not cover the impact of rising maintenance/operating costs of keeping the current systems in Missouri in good repair. Restoration and expansion of this funding would go towards maintaining the services in the state to date. For SFY17, the total core budget was slashed by $500,000 in General Revenue to $1,710,875 in State Transportation funds. This funding is distributed based on a formula among 32 transit providers in MO. In IL, support continued funding of public transit to St. Clair County and Madison County Transit Districts.

Priority #2

Support innovative financing options for transit in MO and IL. For example, advocacy for use of the VW Settlement funds for transit investment in Missouri. Missouri was awarded $41 million as a part of the settlement to be used for a mitigation plan. Transit vehicles are eligible to be funded.

Priority #3

Support project specific funding for capital transit and operating projects in Missouri. The Missouri Public Transit Association has developed a Transit ‘Wish” List that will provide significant return on investment for the state for investment in these projects. These are economic development projects that impact the bottom line for Missouri including economic returns, job creation and access. Projects include:

  • Investment in the St. Louis transit system including the MetroLink study underway, the County study awaiting approval and Metro Reimagined looking at a new vision for the St. Louis bus system.
  • 10% increase in state funds, $31,431, would enable OATS to provide an additional 35,838 trips and 1,890 in additional operating hours, 90% FTE. Right now, MO funding comprises little more than 2 percent of OATS budget.
  • An investment of $500,000 in GoCOMO services in Columbia would allow for restoration of cuts on Oct. 20, 2017, restoration of 1.5 million rides annually.

Priority #4

Support a statewide funding plan for total transportation which includes funding for capital and operating expenses. Rural providers need an option for capital with the reduction in 5339 funding. Adoption of such a plan would reflect the importance of public transit to expanding opportunities for all Missourians. This would include improving access to jobs, education and healthcare; opportunities for economic development; and investment in disadvantaged areas of the state.

Priority #5

Explore new avenues for support for Transit/Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Missouri, such as SB 861 last year creating incentives supporting Public Private Partnerships from last year.

LOCAL INVESTMENT

  • Support prioritized public transit project(s) determined by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the local metropolitan planning organization, following the light rail studies currently underway in the region and the MetroBus ReImagined Study.
  • Partner with other organizations like regional chambers, community groups, labor,  healthcare, AARP, and transit stakeholders to spread the message to broader audiences about the importance of transit.
  • Advocate, support and assist in creating local funding mechanism(s)/package for transit funding.
  • Ensure the local regional transit system is safe/secure for current and future riders through increased number of police officers, placemaking at station areas, a comprehensive security audit, and other measures.

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 2018 to express your interest in transit funding.  There will be 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 Elect Greitens about the need for Missouri to support public transit. Participate in Transportation Day on Feb. 15, 2018.

5. 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!


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