Transportation For America has created the above map showing 38 transit agencies across the country (including RIPTA) which are facing funding cuts this year. The map was created by culling media reports on transit.
While the Governor magically found $2.2 million for RIPTA, that does not close this year’s budget hole. RIPTA’s chairman, John Rupp, told The Providence Journal that the system could run out of money and be forced to shut down before the end of the fiscal year in June. Even with the infusion of $2.2 million, RIPTA’s budget is still as much as $3.8 million dollars short. If the system is not shut down entirely, we face cuts in workforce and bus service and the possibility of another increase in fares.
As seen on the map, Rhode Island is not alone. Cities and states are looking to the federal government for relief. However, funds to assist local transit agencies proposed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair James Oberstar (D-Minn.), were removed from the House economic recovery bill. Funds for rail and other transit construction were cut as well, while funding levels for highway construction remained intact. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is prepared to introduce an amendment to the economic recovery package that would provide at least $2 billion in operating assistance funds for public transportation agencies. The only thing preventing his amendment from reaching the floor for a vote is the House Rules Committee, which will determine this Tuesday by 3:30 p.m. which amendments to include with the House recovery package.
Transportation For America is asking:
Contact Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Chair of the House Rules Committee, through a quick phone call before Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. We need to get her the message that this amendment corrects a glaring omission in the current stimulus package. In a time of crisis, it’s imperative that the Federal government step in to protect basic services that everyday Americans rely on each day.