Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing on our nationís mass transit needs. While the fallout from the Enron situation is extremely urgent, we must also focus on some of the critical issues in the jurisdiction of this Committee. And I look forward to working with the Chairman, and all members of this Committee, as we craft a strong mass transit title to the upcoming TEA-21 reauthorization in the next year.
Mr. Secretary, as you know, Michigan is known as an automobile state. We take pride in producing and driving our cars. However, Michigan also has tremendous mass transit needs. In the year 2000 alone, Michigan buses carried over 91 million passengers. There are bus systems operating in every one of Michiganís 83 counties, from the urban Wayne County to rural counties in the Upper Peninsula. Despite covering all counties, service in many areas is minimal, creating a real hardship for working families who cannot afford to own a car.
Like many other areas in the country, Southeastern Michigan is suffering from extraordinary congestion. This costs people time with their families and reduces our productivity. According to a recent study by Texas A&M University done in 1999, traffic congestion costs Detroit area drivers more than $2.8 billion annually or about $700 per person.
When compared to other urban areas, drivers in the Detroit area experience greater traffic delays than drivers in New York and Chicago and Philadelphia probably because all of these cities have major subway systems, which Detroit does not.
Since Michigan must rely solely on buses for mass transit, our state needs capital investment simply to keep up existing service even though rider-ship is increasing.
In 2002, Michigan received $28 million in bus discretionary funds for capital projects but our capital needs for buses, facilities and equipment exceeded $100 million. Michigan will simply have to carryover this shortfall until next year when we probably will get much less than we need for that year. This means we will fall further and further behind in meeting our public transit needs.
This shortfall exists despite the significant contribution by Michigan taxpayers. Michigan ranks 6th, behind five states with rail, in direct support for its public transit systems.
This is why I am pleased to be here today to kick off our work on improving our mass transit programs. I hope to be able to work with my colleagues on this Committee to help states like Michigan, increase access to public transportation, which will improve our economy and our quality of life.