WASHINGTON, DC: Today, 30 members of Congress joined Representatives Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-4), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) in a groundbreaking resolution supporting equal funding for public transportation and highways. The “Resolution for Transit-Funding Parity” is also supported by 30 organizations, demonstrating widespread support for ending an outdated policy that dedicates 80 percent of all federal transportation funding to highways.
For almost four decades, Congress has severely underfunded public transportation, leaving millions of Americans reliant on deteriorating transit systems with infrequent, inconvenient, and unreliable service. This particularly hurts people of color, who make up 60 percent of all transit riders, and over one million rural households that rely on transit.
“Public transit is a lifeline—for working people, marginalized communities, and our entire economy. Decades-long disinvestment has starved communities of adequate public transportation and created deep, physical barriers to jobs, health care, and education,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04). “Simply put, breaking the status quo on transit funding is an urgent matter of equity and economic opportunity. Public transit systems like CTA and Pace Bus are the arteries that keep communities like Chicago thriving—keeping our frontline workforce moving even during a pandemic. Our resolution lays out a transformative vision for transportation policy—one that funds transit equitably like the vital public good and force for economic empowerment that it is.”
The origin of unequal transportation funding is a 1982 agreement where the majority of a gas tax increase was dedicated to highways, serving drivers through a “user fee.” But even though gas tax revenues are no longer the sole source of transportation funding—and haven’t been since 2008, when over $144 billion in taxpayer dollars were needed to supplement this user fee—the “80-20” funding split persists.
“We have never shown the vision or commitment to building a robust transit system that we have shown to highways; and that cannot change so long as we stay wedded to an outdated 1980s approach to transportation spending,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America. “We’re thrilled that Rep. García and so many cosponsors have confronted this broken policy head-on. We urge every lawmaker in Congress to join Rep. García in this fundamental rethink of transportation policy to finally deliver the transportation system Americans deserve and need — one that provides equitable access to economic opportunity and essential services, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and supports a strong national economy.”
Read more about the “80/20” split on Transportation for America’s blog here.