The Missouri 21st Century Transportation Task Force, the task force outlined in HCR 47, is charged with creating a proposal for Missouri state transportation funding that will be introduced in January 2018. The complete list of Task Force members is now online: http://www.senate.mo.gov/mttf/
The Task Force will meet monthly in different parts of the state. It is strongly encouraged for people & groups with an interest in transportation funding to attend the meetings and testify. MPTA members have been testifying at many of the meetings on behalf of transit. The next meeting on Multi-Modal travel is set for Sept. 20 in Kirksville, MO at 1 p.m.
Following is testimony from Kelly Turner, Director of Transit for City Utilities of Springfield and a MPTA Board Member & Executive Committee Member
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and this Task Force for your efforts and this opportunity to address you.
We are the primary public transportation provider for the city of Springfield, that is we operate the city bus system. Our service provides bus transportation for portions of this community that often have no other option, as well as those who see our service as providing them an important additional choice for their transportation. Nearly 1.5 million trips are provided annually to our customers and our community. And, reflecting on the Economic Development theme of this meeting, overwhelmingly our customers are riding our buses to either make money or spend money. We believe that public transportation plays an important role in any local economy. We deliver a workforce to employers, we take customers to do their regular shopping, we transport students and employees to schools and workforce development opportunities, we assist the medical community through many, many medical trips, and we provide access to those who often do not have it otherwise.
A study from the American Public Transportation Association reports that for every dollar invested in transit service, the state receives the equivalent of a $4 return in economic benefit. Unfortunately, transit funding in this state is going the wrong direction. And pales in comparison to our closest neighbors and most of the country. Transit funding in Missouri was a little more than $8 million in state operating assistance in 2002. Now, after Missouri transit providers have sustained another cut to transit operating funding in the 2018 State Budget, we understand that funding will be only $1.7 million to be distributed among the 34 transit providers in Missouri.
I appreciate that this region, and this state, has great choice for most of us when it comes to our transportation. And I recognize that a funding solution needs to be identified to help us take care of our roads and bridges. As has been mentioned, this may be in the form of some interim step in the short-term. But we believe it is important to maintain transportation choice and access for our community and our state. It is imperative that whatever ultimate solution is identified, that it should be comprehensive and multimodal, and that public transportation funding must be part of the solution. Continued cuts of transit funding, and frankly failing to grow transit funding, will only more negatively impact the economy of our state and communities through lack of access to jobs, healthcare, and trips that are so critical to our residents both urban and rural.