Congressman Pitts introduces bill to save federal funding for RRTA, BARTA
WashingtonCongressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) this week introduced the Transit System Flexibility Protection Act of 2006 to amend a federal rule that deprives small transit systems around the nation of flexibility in how they spend federal public transit funds. The bill would directly affect the Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) in Lancaster and the Berks Area Reading Transit Authority (BARTA) in Reading. The bill has 12 cosponsors in the House and a companion bill is likely to be introduced in the Senate.
"Local transit systems like Red Rose and BARTA know their own needs better than anyone else, and should have the freedom to address those needs as they see fit," said Rep. Pitts. "Without a change in the law, decisions on how to spend transit funding in these communities will be made by bureaucrats working in Washington. The result is a decline in service to the thousands of people who rely on these transit systems on a regular basis."
Under current law, transit systems that serve urbanized areas (UZAs) under 200,000 in population are afforded the flexibility to allow local decision makers to determine how federal money is spent to maximize the benefits of transit investment. This threshold was established in the 1970s when most areas that surpassed that number were densely populated urban areas.
Because the Lancaster and Reading areas grew to more than 200,000 people in the last Census they were ruled ineligible for transit funding flexibility. However, BARTA, RRTA, and similar transit systems around the nation still serve areas that are largely suburban or rural in nature drawing on significantly less resources than urban transit systems.
The Transit System Flexibility Protection Act of 2006 addresses this problem by preserving flexibility for transit systems if they operate less than 100 buses on fixed routes during peak service hours, regardless of population.