Congressman Johnson helps capture more funding for mass transit
As the $819 billion economic stimulus plan leaves the House for the Senate after being approved Jan. 28, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) welcomed leadership's decision to increase funding for mass transit.
Capital funding for mass transit stood at about $6 billion in the plan before Johnson urged his colleagues and leadership to consider boosting the vital resource.
The plan now being considered by the Senate contains nearly $9 billion in the form of capital grants for mass transit systems throughout the country, including MARTA, which will receive at least $121 million.
"Talk of possible MARTA fare increases and cuts in service due to the transit system's budget deficit has not been lost on me," said Johnson. "I understand how important the system is to the people of my district."
In a Dear Colleague letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.-08) and Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-08) dated Jan. 22, Johnson and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02) implored House leaders on both sides of the aisle to consider more funding for public transit.
"Public transit is a vital resource for metropolitan areas, and communities that surround those metropolitan areas," the letter says. "People who live in those areas depend on mass transit in their everyday lives; to get to their places of employment, to take their children to school or daycare, and to shop for food and other necessities."
MARTA, which relies on sales tax collections from DeKalb County, Fulton County and the city of Atlanta, faces a $50 million budget deficit in 2009 due in large part to the struggling economy.
Over the next 10 years, MARTA - which is the only mass transit system in the nation that receives no state funding for operations - faces a possible $588 million budget shortfall.
Johnson said more money for transit in the stimulus package could help turn the economy around.
"Funding for public transit will further stimulate the economy by producing green jobs," he said in the letter.
"According to Department of Transportation estimates, if $47.8 billion were invested in public transit immediately, more than 1.3 million green jobs could be supported in the next two years."