Nadler: We Must Defend Mass Transit

The following is a press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the senior Northeastern Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued a stern warning in response to GOP plans to eliminate guaranteed funding for mass transit within H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. As H.R. 7 is currently drafted, mass transit is included within a new “Alternative Transportation Fund,” which would combine transit with numerous other programs and make the program dependent on general revenue.

“Transit is not an alternative mode of transportation and should not be treated as such,” said Nadler. “Millions of Americans use transit every day as their primary mode of transportation. They certainly don’t think transit should be treated as an ‘alternative’ because there is no other alternative for them.”

Nadler, who will offer an amendment to restore mass transit to the Highway Trust Fund in the bill, issued the following statement:

“This new ‘Alternative Transportation Fund’ presents a major change to the way these programs are treated, one for which we have heard no rationale, and which raises serious questions. Such a shift in federal priority could be catastrophic for urban centers like New York, which rely on mass transit for basic mobility and economic functioning.

“Our fears about this proposed change were confirmed when the House Ways & Means Committee announced that it will make this Alternative Transportation Fund – and thus mass transit, CMAQ and Ferries – dependent on general revenue funds. This is absolutely unacceptable, and a major step by the Majority party to dismantle transit.

“Transit is not an alternative mode of transportation and should not be treated as such. Millions of Americans use transit every day as their primary mode of transportation. They certainly don’t think transit should be treated as an ‘alternative’ because there is no other alternative for them.

“In my state of New York, the Metropolitan Transit Agency moves 8.5 million passengers every day. That’s more people than the population of the entire state of Virginia. 8.5 million people. That’s more than the populations of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming combined.

“And that’s just in one day.

“89 percent of all the trips into Manhattan in the morning rush hour are made by mass transit. That’s over 500,000 trips just in the peak hour. For people who make that trip every day for work, there is no alternative mode of transportation.

“This shouldn’t even be a debate. I cannot believe that we are going back to the idea that transit is somehow less deserving of guaranteed federal funding. It is such an outdated way of thinking that would, if enacted into law, set us back decades. In 1982, President Reagan raised the gas tax and added mass transit to the Highway Trust Fund. He certainly believed that mass transit deserved stable funding. It has worked well for the last three decades, and there is no reason to change it now.

“I will offer an amendment to H.R. 7 that eliminates the new Alternative Transportation Fund, restores the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, and moves CMAQ, Ferries, Puerto Rico and Territorial Highways, and Research back into the Highway Trust Fund, consistent with current law.

“I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and restore the treatment of transit, and these other programs, to the status quo under current law.”

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City. In Brooklyn, the 8th District includes parts of Borough Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Seagate.

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