Rep. Pitts Reintroduces Legislation to Save America's Small Transit Systems
Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) today reintroduced the Transit Flexibility Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, a bill that would save dozens of small and medium-sized transit systems nationwide from having to cut services by allowing them flexibility in the way they spend their federal money. Pitts introduced the legislation with bipartisan support from his House colleagues.
"Local transit authorities know how best to spend their federal funding - not some bureaucrat in Washington," Congressman Pitts said. "By simply allowing these small and medium-sized systems flexibility with their funding, we can save them from having to cut vital services to the community. For thousands of people across America, that means saving their ride to work each day."
Under current law, transit systems that service urbanized areas exceeding 200,000 in population lose their ability to use federal transit funds for operating expenses. This law uses an out-dated and arbitrary threshold, the consequences of which were not realized until after the 2000 Census, the first census carried out under this law. Following the 2000 Census, many transit systems, including RRTA in Lancaster County and BARTA in Berks County, were forced to significantly cut routes and raise fares.
The Transit System Flexibility Protection Act provides a long-term solution to this problem. Specifically, it would add a provision to current law stating that if an urbanized area exceeds a population of 200,000, but the transit system continues to operate fewer than 100 buses on fixed-route service during peak service hours, that transit system can maintain its funding flexibility.
This solution does not cost any additional federal dollars. It does not create a new federal program. What it would do is allow more than 130 small transit systems across the country to better plan for the future and maintain financial viability as their service area increases in size.