Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), along with 32 Members of Congress, introduced the Transit Parity Resolution last week calling for equal funding for transit and highways.
Currently, Congress uses a 40-year precedent to determine funding for highways and public transportation. Since 1982, approximately 80 percent of federal transportation program funding has been allocated to highways, while only 20 percent has been allocated to public transit. When this 80-20 split was decided, it was intended to be a user fee, but since 2008 over $144 billion in general taxpayer dollars have been used to supplement dwindling gas tax revenues for highway and transit spending. This split is out of step with the current needs of our country and leaves too many reliant on deteriorating transit systems with infrequent and unreliable service.
“Public transit is a public good, and it’s past time our government treat it like one,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “For too long, our federal transportation investments have prioritized highways over public transit, incentivizing travel in private cars which increases traffic congestion, produces pollution, and exacerbates racial and economic inequality. Today, we have an opportunity and an obligation to fundamentally realign our federal transportation policy to center community connectivity and emphasize equity, access, and sustainability. As transportation agencies in my district and across the country face record budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must act swiftly to make the investments in public transit our communities deserve by establishing real funding parity. This is about addressing the damage from this epidemic and committing to the future of our transit systems. I’m proud to stand with Congressman García, Chairman Jeffries, and our colleagues in calling on Congress to do just that.”
Said Will Anderson, Sierra Club’s Associate Director of Legislative/Administrative Advocacy for the Clean Transportation for All campaign, “The Sierra Club supports Congressman García’s resolution to acknowledge frequent and reliable public transportation as the civil right and climate change solution that it is by adequately funding it. We must treat public transit as essential infrastructure—just like roads, bridges, tunnels and utilities—that is crucial to the economic, social, and environmental well-being of our communities.”
In October 2019, Congresswoman Pressley founded the Future of Transportation Caucus, a Congressional caucus focused on centering equity, access, and sustainability in our transportation systems. In June, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, she led a letter advocating for $50 billion in annual emergency funds to support and sustain our nation’s public transit systems. Later that month, she introduced the Freedom to Move Act, which would provide federal grants to transit agencies that move to a fare-free model. Rep. Pressley is also a co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus and a tireless advocate for sustainable and equity focused transportation and infrastructure policies.