Today, the House of Representatives passed a compromise transportation authorization bill, 373-52. Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) supported the legislation, which contained his language to give local transit systems to flexibility to spend federal dollars.
"Local bus service is a necessity for many workers, especially those who can't afford a car," said Pitts. "Today's bill gives local bus systems like the Red Rose Transit Authority and the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority the flexibility they need to maintain critical service."
In the late 1990s, Congress passed a law prohibiting transit systems that service urbanized areas exceeding 200,000 in population from using federal transit funds for operating expenses. Following the 2000 Census, many transit systems, including RRTA and BARTA, were forced to significantly cut routes and raise fares.
Congressman Pitts' provision, included in the larger bill, states 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.
RRTA Executive Director Dave Kilmer applauded passage of the bill: "After years of working on this issue, it is gratifying that we will now have flexibility to use our federal funds to keep bus service operating in Lancaster. I can not express enough our appreciation to Congressman Pitts who has stayed with us to get this issue resolved. He really understands the importance of public transit in small communities around the country and here in Lancaster."