Monday, July 23, 2012

Did you know?

The new transportation reauthorization failed to equalize pre-tax benefits for transit users and drivers. Transit riders may set aside only $125 pre-tax monthly to pay for ticket fares, while drivers may set aside $240 for parking. 

Changes to how capital dollars are allocated in the new federal transportation authorization could bring in more federal funding for the CTA Red Line extension.

Transit and the new federal transportation bill

Americans spend more on transportation than anything else except housing (and in some households, transportation costs exceed rent or mortgage payments). To save money and beat high gas prices, people are flocking to public transit – to the tune of 125.7 million more transit trips the first quarter of 2012 than the same time last year. That’s a five percent jump and the fifth consecutive quarter ridership has increased, testimony that transit not only provides a lower cost travel option, but also that service is becoming better and more reliable thanks to technology improvements such as bus and train trackers, which tell riders when the next train or bus will arrive.

So will the newly signed federal transportation authorization, MAP-21, support our nation’s transit systems to continue to provide people with options for how they get around? The good news is the law maintains transit funding at current levels. On the other hand, MAP-21 does not deliver additional resources to struggling transit agencies, nor will it significantly improve our nation’s transportation system by reducing congestion and providing more travel options that are good for the environment, economy, and people’s pocketbooks.  

The new law, which takes effect Oct. 1, 2012, provides the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) an authorization level of $10.6 billion in FY2013 and $10.7 billion in FY 2014. That’s an inflationary increase over the last authorization, SAFETEA-LU, but not nearly enough to modernize the nation’s train and bus systems. About 80 percent of funding will come from motor fuel taxes via the Highway Trust Fund and the remainder from General Fund authorizations.

Talking Transit breaks it down this week. Read on for the nitty-gritty...

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