Transit Agency Coalition to Congress: ‘We need $39.3B’

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
New York MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye assembled a group of 22 transit agencies nationwide to send a letter to Congress requesting additional funding to address projected budget shortfalls. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

New York MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye assembled a group of 22 transit agencies nationwide to send a letter to Congress requesting additional funding to address projected budget shortfalls. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit) D train at Stillwell Terminal. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

A New York MTA-led coalition of 22 transit agencies is calling on Congress to provide an additional $39.3 billion in relief to address COVID-19-related deficits and prevent further service cuts and delays to capital projects.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye assembled the nationwide group, from Bay Area Rapid Transit (San Francisco) to Sound Transit (Seattle) to Capital Metro (Austin) to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston). They sent a funding-request letter, dated Feb. 3, to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, MTA reported. (Download below.)

“Given the unprecedented ridership declines, revenue losses and additional costs caused by the pandemic, a new independent economic analysis shows that $39.3 billion in additional investment is needed to maintain operations today and to get through the years ahead,” they wrote in the letter, which refers to an EBP US Inc. study conducted on behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) that found public transit agencies face a projected shortfall of $39.3 billion through the end of 2023. “As such, we request $39.3 billion in emergency aid for public transit agencies nationwide in the next coronavirus relief bill.”

While transit agencies have received support for operations, in part, from the CARES Act ($25 billion) and the recently enacted Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act) of 2021 ($14 billion), gaps exist due to ongoing losses of ridership, fare revenue, and state and local tax revenue, among others. This translates to projected transit funding needs of $25.2 billion in 2021, $15.1 billion in 2022, and $13.0 billion in 2023, Boston-based EBP US found.

The letter continued: “Federal investment will do more than just keep the trains and buses running; it will help fortify our systems for decades to come. By devoting resources to transit, we can create jobs and strengthen the infrastructure that moves not only people, but our economy. We look forward to working with you on this vitally important matter.”

In addition to Foye, the other coalition members who signed the letter are: Jeffrey A. Parker General Manager and CEO, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Atlanta, Ga.; Randy Clarke, President and CEO, Capital Metro, Austin, Tex.; Kevin B. Quinn Jr., Administrator, Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, Md.; Steve Poftak, General Manager and CEO, MBTA, Boston, Mass.; John Lewis, CEO, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), Charlotte, N.C.; Dorval R. Carter, President, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago, Ill.; Darryl Haley, CEO and General Manager, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, Cincinnati, Ohio; India Birdsong, General Manager and CEO, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland, Ohio; Debra A. Johnson, General Manager and CEO, Denver Regional Transportation District, Denver, Colo.; Nathaniel P. Ford, CEO, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Jacksonville, Fla.; Phillip A. Washington, CEO, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Los Angeles, Calif. (Washington recently announced he would step down from Metro in May, when his contract ends); Alice N. Bravo, Director, Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works, Miami, Fla.; Alex Z. Wiggins, CEO, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, New Orleans, La.; Kevin S. Corbett, President and CEO, NJ Transit, Newark, N.J.; Robert M. Powers, General Manager, BART, Oakland, Calif.; Leslie S. Richards, General Manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Philadelphia, Pa.; Jeffrey C. Arndt, President and CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, Tex.; Terry White, General Manager, King County Metro, Seattle, Wash.; Peter Rogoff, CEO, Sound Transit, Seattle, Wash.; David Green, Executive Director, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa, Fla.; and Paul J. Wiedefeld, CEO and General Manager, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington, D.C.

Foye brought together nine transit agencies to hold a virtual rally Dec. 9, prior to the passage of the CRRSA Act, calling on Congress to “urgently deliver significant and immediate federal aid to public transportation systems nationwide” to stave off severe pandemic-related cutbacks.

Download the complete transit agency coalition letter:

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