Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this second hearing on reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century – TEA-21, and I’d like to join you in welcoming FTA Administrator Dorn and our witnesses.
Mr. Chairman, as the Banking Committee begins its work on the reauthorization of TEA-21, I look forward to working with the committee members, as well as Administrator Dorn and Secretary Mineta, in crafting legislation that helps meet our nation’s mass transit needs. I would like to point out that nowhere in the country is fact need for mass transit more evident than in my state of New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation. A study done by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in July of 2001 found that the average New Jersey driver spent almost 50 hours a year stuck in traffic. For all this time stuck in traffic, that’s an average cost per driver of $1255 in wasted gasoline and lost productivity – for a total cost of $7.3 billion a year.
To New Jersey’s credit, we have realized that we cannot build enough roads to meet our transportation needs. We need to craft TEA-21 reauthorization legislation that operates under that premise as well. This legislation should continue the federal government’s commitment to help fund existing mass transit projects. But it should also help state and local transit agencies create new opportunities for commuters, whether they are bus, rail or ferry. Transit agencies need more funding, not less, to meet the needs from their increasing levels of ridership.
Mr. Chairman, as the Banking Committee deals with reauthorization, I will push for funding to increase mass transit opportunities. For my state of New Jersey that means additional funding for the Hudson-Bergen and Newark-Elizabeth rail options as well as funding for new trans-Hudson commuter rail tunnel.
Thank you for holding this hearing and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.