While Congress was trying to complete a 2018 spending bill the past week, the American Public Transportation Association said President Trump's proposed cuts in transit funding for fiscal 2019 would put 800,000 jobs at risk and result in a possible loss of $90 billion in U.S. economic output.
Lawmakers voted to make sharp increases in 2018 transit spending, including more formula funds and a boost in new capital grants that Trump proposed ending. But APTA members were already targeting the president's proposals for the next budget year.
Public transit leaders from across the country told a March 19 press briefing in Washington, D.C., that an APTA-commissioned analysis indicated those 2019 funding cuts, if enacted, could cost 502,000 construction and related jobs and another 300,000 longer-term jobs associated with economic productivity.
CEOs of local public transit agencies participating in the event were from Jacksonville, Fla; Seattle; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Albany, N.Y.; Denver; and D.C.
APTA noted that the administration proposes, while offering a broader infrastructure plan, cutting funds for the Federal Transit Administration's capital investment grants program, the Department of Transportation's TIGER infrastructure grants, Amtrak and the local D.C. Metro system.
The association said the cuts to the CIG program would put 53 public transit "new start" projects at risk that total $51.7 billion in infrastructure investments. It said those projects also "have local and state funds committed with the expectation that the federal government will fulfill its financial obligations" Congress made in 2015 in the five-year Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act.
"The proposed budget cuts to public transit will affect accessibility for millions of Americans across the nation that rely on our bus and rail systems to get to and from jobs, healthcare and education," said APTA Chair and Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nathaniel Ford. "Without this funding, projects that rely on capital investment grants will not be implemented and communities will suffer."
APTA President Paul Skoutelas added: "Cutting investments in America's public transit infrastructure to fund an infrastructure initiative is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. However, we are encouraged that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support increased investments in public transit that will boost our economy and the quality of life in our local communities. We are calling on Congress to reject these budget cuts."
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