Having spent a good portion of the last several months in my role as Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee trying to strike balance among funding for transit, Amtrak, highways, Coast Guard, and the FAA, I have a better understanding of the difficulty we face in this Committee regarding the reauthorization of the mass transit programs.
As we move forward, I know we are going to struggle with the competing interests of rural, urban, and suburban transit users. I believe that we need to find more ways to take full advantage of the current investment in infrastructure - whether it is existing rights-of-way, existing track, existing highways that could be modified for bus or other high occupancy vehicle application - as well as targeting our limited transit capital dollars on entirely new systems.
Transit has significant role to play in rural, suburban and urban settings.
But a system that makes sense for New York City will not be the most efficient
approach for cities like Houston or for other, less densely populated cities in the
west - or for the rural communities where transit provides basic transportation
services for those without easy access to automobiles. I look forward to working
with the Committee as we review the transit programs with an eye toward
increasing the flexibility of the current program to ensure it is contributing to the
best transportation solutions in each community it serves.
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