While Transportation Day 2014 was postponed for tomorrow, Feb. 4 due to weather- there is still an opportunity to weigh in on public transit in Missouri as the discussions begin on HJR 68/SJR 48 – the proposed one-cent sales and use tax for transportation in Missouri. While the weather may keep you home tomorrow, consider contacting members of the Senate Appropriations Committee which will be taking public testimony tomorrow and the House TRansportation Committee has a hearing schedule tomorrow at 12 noon.
Testimony submitted by CMT:
Transportation is the key to moving Missouri forward. You will hear testimony on the proposed one-cent sales tax for transportation in Missouri in HJR 68/SJR 48. We commend you for beginning the critical discussion on finding funding for Missouri’s total transportation system.
Whether a one-cent sales and use tax or some other vehicle is the means to fund transportation, I am writing to voice support for a multi-modal project package as a part of this proposed funding. Public transit projects and other multi-modal projects must be included in the list of project priorities. Right now, Missouri’s gas tax only allows for funding for roads and bridges in Missouri.
Investing in transit in both our cities and towns will improve Missouri’ s economy. Transit creates and sustains jobs, it provides access to work, it creates economic development opportunities, it creates livable and sustainable communities, and it puts money back in Missourians pockets – Missouri needs transit and a funding source to ensure that transit stays on track.
For every dollar that Missouri invests in public transit, there is a $4 return to the state. Since MetroLink opened, we have tracked billions in development around the light rail infrastructure. Kansas City has a streetcar system under construction and is already seeing development spring up around the infrastructure before it is complete. In this economy, there are very few investments that are demonstrating a similar return for our dollar.
The current level of state support for public transit is inadequate. In 2007, MoDOT’s Long Range Transportation Plan identified the need for an additional $200 million annually to address Missouri’s unmet public transit funding needs. Last year, Missouri’s transit funding was $1.06 million for 33 service providers across the state – that ranks near the bottom across the country in transit funding. In the St. Louis region, our neighbors the St. Clair County Transit District in Illinois receive more than $35 million annually from the state of Illinois to maintain their portion of the Metro system.
Local funding has hit a ceiling in many areas. In order to compete for federal dollars to put our economy back on track, Missouri must make transit and transportation a priority through support and funding.
This funding has been on the decline for more than a decade- In 2000, state funding was about $8.4 million. Today, state support after it is divided up does little to help Missouri gain jobs, improve access and build economic development opportunities for our residents through public transit. Moving forward any transportation plan in Missouri must look at a total transportation package. Equitable funding must be allocated to transit.
In St. Louis alone, more than 75 percent of the 223,000 daily boardings on transit are for the work commute. Transit creates, maintains, and sustains JOBS that Missouri cannot afford to lose.
In addition, with an aging population in Missouri of residents 65 years or older, transit meets the needs of our seniors and disabled residents in both the rural and urban areas. Transit increases accessibility, connects them to their communities, and keeps them active and healthy.
Missouri needs transit and a TOTAL transportation funding package – even though only some Missourians ride it, Missouri needs transit! I strongly urge you to only support a funding package for transportation in Missouri only if public transit and other modes of transportation are included. I also encourage you to look at ways to go beyond any one funding mechanism to make public transit a priority for Missouri over the long run.
Citizens for Modern Transit