I appreciate Chairman Shelby and Senator Sarbanes for organizing today's hearing to discuss the public transit aspects of the Administration's proposal SAFETEA - Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act. The current highway and transit legislation, TEA-21, expires September 30th of this year. Today's hearing is timely and the issues are important to the people of Georgia and this nation.
During TEA-21 Georgia received about $777 million for transit over the past six years. The Administration proposal provides $45.76 billion for transit over the next six years and $37.6 billion in guaranteed funding. However, the ridership has outpaced the available resources and the need for the efficient transportation is still unmet.
As a former governor during the inception of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991 and TEA-21 in 1998, I know well the benefits and importance of a long-term, holistic approach to addressing the numerous transportation challenges of large metropolitan, nonattainment areas as well as rural areas in need of alternatives to safely and efficiently transport people to and from work, school, grocery stores, and medical centers. With the need outpacing the current resources, I look forward to Secretary Mineta's and the other witnesses' testimony about the funding levels in SAFETEA and retaining important flexibility, minimum guarantees, and firewalls that state transportation planning organizations currently enjoy.