Senate Supporters Restore 80-20 Funding Split in Transportation Bill
July 24, 2015
Public transit champions in the Senate have prevailed in their campaign to restore an 80-20 split between highways and transit in the Senate’s hotly negotiated surface transportation bill.
Democratic staffers on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee were reporting that the initial draft of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act was based on a 94-6 split in capital funding for new projects, translating to roughly $3.2 billion for the highway account and $200 million for transit.
Senators committed to smart transportation planning were successful in their fight to increase funds for new transit programs to $815 million, restoring the traditional 80-20 split. “We fought back an effort to shortchange American commuters who depend on public transportation to get to their jobs and contribute to the economy,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
For those of you keeping track at home, the revised DRIVE Act now directs $35.8 billion in general fund subsidies for highway projects, and $11.3 billion for transit programs. It is tempting to focus on the negative, concluding that it says nothing good about U.S. infrastructure policy that we consider winning back an 80-20 split between highways and mass transit a “victory.” However, it’s important to note that the DRIVE Act also includes the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act of 2015 (R2E2).
“NARP has worked closely with senators and committee staffers in drafting [R2E2]. It is not a perfect bill, but it is a huge leap forward in instituting a concrete framework for passenger rail predicated on growth, not contraction,” said NARP President and CEO Jim Mathews. “And it was created in a thoroughly bipartisan way, so we have every expectation that the Senate will advance this bill in as timely a fashion as possible.”
"On behalf of Amtrak’s onboard service staff, I want to thank the Rail Passengers Association for honoring their hard work with this award. The past couple years have indeed been difficult for Amtrak onboard service staff – coping with furloughs and job insecurity, adapting to changing protocols and services, not to mention the unfortunate events such as a tragic derailment and a fatal shooting. Nevertheless, our dedicated members at Amtrak have handled these hurdles with the care, attention and diligence for which they’re known. We thank Rail Passengers for their acknowledgement of our members’ hard work and, as always, look forward to seeing you on the rails."
Arthur Maratea, TCU/IAM National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.