The Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) provider members provide more than 62 million rides a year almost everywhere for everybody almost every day in Missouri, and they employ thousands in our communities. Public transit serves customers in every county, rural and urban, and is critical to meeting the transportation needs of Missouri’s citizens. Good public transit infrastructure improves access to jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities; brings greater economic development; and promotes reinvestment in underserved parts of our community while binding our communities together.
MPTA supported the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act which was passed into law in December 2015. This was the first long-term federal transportation bill since 2005. There were no cuts to overall funding levels from the prior bill, MAP-21. The current bill authorizes $230 billion for highways, $61 billion for public transportation, $10 billion for passenger rail and $5 billion for highway safety programs. However, the funds available under the Bus Capital and No-Lo Emission programs are significantly lower than the needs demonstrate. In addition, the future of federal funding is uncertain under the new Administration. While advocates continue to push for federal funding for capital and operating, programs like TIGER and New Starts are possibly on the chopping block. MO needs its own plan for raising additional transportation revenue, both to control its own infrastructure needs and to show its ability to provide state matching dollars to attract any federal funding available. MPTA will continue to work with bus transit system providers, other national transit organizations and local partners like MoDOT to ensure their systems are adequately funded to provide safe and reliable public transit in Missouri.
MO TRANSIT INVESTMENT
Support the restoration of Transit Operating Assistance to the baseline FY 2002 transit funding levels of $8,367,997 and expand from there. Currently, State Transit Funding Assistance does not cover the impact of rising maintenance/operating costs of keeping the current systems in Missouri in good repair. Restoration and expansion of this funding would go towards maintaining the services in the state to date. For SFY17, the total core budget was slashed by $500,000 in General Revenue to $1,710,875 in State Transportation funds. This funding is distributed based on a formula among 32 transit providers in MO.
Support innovative financing options for transit in MO. For example, advocacy for use of the VW Settlement funds for transit investment in Missouri. Missouri was awarded $41 million as a part of the settlement to be used for a mitigation plan. Transit vehicles are eligible to be funded.
Support project specific funding for capital transit and operating projects in Missouri. The Missouri Public Transit Association has developed a Transit ‘Wish” List that will provide significant return on investment for the state for investment in these projects. These are economic development projects that impact the bottom line for Missouri including economic returns, job creation and access. Projects include:
- 10% increase in state funds, $31,431, would enable OATS to provide an additional 35,838 trips and 1,890 in additional operating hours, 90% FTE. Right now, MO funding comprises little more than 2 percent of OATS budget.
- An investment of $500,000 in GoCOMO services in Columbia would allow for restoration of cuts on Oct. 20, 2017, restoration of 1.5 million rides annually.
Support a statewide funding plan for total transportation which includes funding for capital and operating expenses. Rural providers need an option for capital with the reduction in 5339 funding. Adoption of such a plan would reflect the importance of public transit to expanding opportunities for all Missourians. This would include improving access to jobs, education and healthcare; opportunities for economic development; and investment in disadvantaged areas of the state.
Explore new avenues for support for Transit/Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in Missouri, such as SB 861 creating incentives supporting Public Private Partnerships from last year.
There are many ways for you to be involved with these efforts as MPTA members and transit supporters.
1.Please contact your legislators now as we head into 2018 to express your interest in transit funding.There will be many new legislators taking office this session and will need to hear from their constituents that transit makes a difference. In addition, there will be significant discussion around state tax reform which could have an additional impact on transit. In addition
2.Continue reading MPTA’s eblast and blog postings that will keep you updated on where things stand.
3.Contact your locally elected officials or weigh in with a letter to the editor about the importance of transit funding. Help build grassroots support in your own community for transit.
4. Contact Governor Elect Greitens about the need for Missouri to support public transit.
5. RIDE TRANSIT, and invite others to get on board with you.
Thank you in advance for your help!