President Trump’s administration released its proposed budget last week. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for transit expansion projects in the New Starts Program unless a funding agreement is already in place. Funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program — currently budgeted for $2.3 billion annually through 2020 — would be eliminated. In addition, there is a proposal to eliminate the TIGER competitive grant program, a $500 million program, which has been utilized in MO for several transit projects including the Kansas City Streetcar and the future Boyle Street MetroLink Station in St. Louis.
The TIGER grant program is one of the only ways that local communities can directly access federal funds. In order to be competitive in this current program, project proposals must include significant local funding and provide evidence of how their project will accomplish numerous goals.
Eliminating the New Starts Program would leave many communities who have raised local matching funds out of luck for their transit programs unless already approved for funding. Eliminating federal support for transit is especially problematic in Missouri where the state provides little to no support for transit capital projects and less than $2 million for 32 providers for operating. Without the New Starts funding, new capital projects in Missouri will be extremely difficult as cities and transit agencies have to figure out how to fund these projects on their own – either raising taxes, cutting other local priorities, or abandoning the projects altogether.
The proposed budget will now move through the Congressional budget process. At the same time, other budget proposals are being introduced. Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced his bill on funding transportation programs, Investing in America: A Penny for Progress Act, to help provide additional funding for Transportation programs. The bill provides $500 billion in infrastructure investment in Transportation programs. It provides $206 million for transit buses and facilities and $730 million for State of Good Repair programs.
MPTA will continue to update members as the information becomes available.