Hearing of U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs "Executive Session - Mark-up of the "Federal Public Transportation Act of 2005

By:  Rick Santorum
Date: March 17, 2005
Location: Washington, DC

Hearing of U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs "Executive Session - Mark-up of the "Federal Public Transportation Act of 2005." "

Mr. Chairman, the bill we're marking up today is a critical component of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005.

I represent a state that relies heavily on both highways and public transit as primary forms of transportation. Transit operators of all sizes are found throughout Pennsylvania—small bus operators in the rural northern tier, medium-size operators in high-intensity urban areas, and large metropolitan areas. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are among the nation's 20 largest transit systems with extensive bus and rail networks that provide transportation for millions of commuters every day.

As a Senator from a diverse state such as Pennsylvania, I believe that adequate funding levels are necessary to maintain both the large metropolitan transit organizations and the rural transit operators. Public transportation provides communities with an affordable means of mobility, offers individuals greater opportunity, saves energy, and reduces congestion and pollution. Robust systems are also an important component of economic development. For these reasons, mass transit deserves an equitable portion of funding in this bill.

This bill retains important provisions passed by the Senate last year. As one of those responsible for the creation of the Job Access and Reverse Commute program in TEA-21, I am pleased that the transit title maintains and increases funding for the program and does not formularize it. Throughout my tenure in Congress, one of my highest priorities has been assisting those who are transitioning from welfare to the workplace. The JARC program has been essential to assisting families through this transition. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in particular have provided access to employment for thousands of individuals through the JARC program. The creation of the program has allowed Pennsylvania to provide welfare recipients and other low-income individuals an opportunity to secure and retain employment and achieve self-sufficiency.

In addition, I fully support the 80/20 federal match for transit projects, which is so important to new transit projects in my state.

I am also pleased we worked to secure the financing system for mass transit to ensure the multi-year reliability of funding so crucial to effective long-term planning.

I look forward to the consideration and passage of a robust transit title that will provide for the needs of communities in Pennsylvania and across the nation.