Lautenberg And Menendez Introduce Emergency Transit Funding Measure To Help Stem Fare Hikes And Service Cuts

Lautenberg And Menendez Introduce Emergency Transit Funding Measure To Help Stem Fare Hikes And Service Cuts

Legislation would deliver an estimate $125 million for NJ transit

Washington - Today U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) joined Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) to introduce a bill that would authorize emergency funding for transit agencies to help reverse fare increases and service cuts.

"This measure would provide critical relief to New Jersey's commuters and transit riders across the country when they need it most. Investing in transit will help stem fare hikes and improve service so that working class families can get to work on time and without breaking the bank," Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said.

"Cutbacks at NJ Transit has made transit service for New Jerseyans more expensive and less accessible. This is a moment in which we should be investing in our public transportation, not undermining it. Emphasizing mass transit helps rebuild our economy through lower commuting costs, new jobs and cleaner air." Senator Menendez, who is chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee with jurisdiction over mass transit said.

"While families continue to struggle to make ends meet the last thing we should do is make it harder and more expensive for people to get to work. This bill will prevent disruptive service cuts and help put money back in the pockets of families when they need it most," Chairman Dodd said.

State and local governments have been hit hard by the downturn in the economy and public transportation systems nationwide are experiencing major budget cuts as a result. The American Public Transportation Association reports that since January 1, 2009, 84 percent of public transit systems have either raised fares, cut service or are considering those options.

This bill will authorize $2 billion for transit agencies nationwide to help close funding gaps in operating costs. Transit agencies would be able to use these funds to reduce fare increases and restore services that were cut after January 2009 or to prevent future service cuts or fare increases through September 2011. Agencies that have not increased rates or cut services and do not plan to do so may use the funds for infrastructure improvements. NJ Transit would receive an estimated $125 million under this bill.

The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).