July 23, 2015

Brown Restores Millions for Transit Funding in Transportation Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Senate debates a transportation bill this week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led a successful push to restore funding to public transportation, quadrupling new spending from what was first proposed.

In its original form, the transportation bill would have steered $3.2 billion in new revenue to roads and $200 million to transit, shortchanging Ohio commuters who depend on public transportation. Brown rallied Senate Democrats to urge the Republican majority to increase the amount available for new transit spending to $815 million. Brown serves as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Development, which has jurisdiction over transportation funding that supports urban development and mass transit.

“We fought back an effort to shortchange American commuters who depend on public transportation to get to their jobs and contribute to the economy,” said Brown. “It’s critical that we provide the resources needed to keep our transit systems safe and affordable. The Banking Committee should have had an opportunity to consider this bill, and Senators must have an opportunity to offer amendments to address other areas that need improvement.”

Since 1983, public transportation has received 20 percent of each increase of dedicated revenue used to grow highway and transit spending from the highway trust fund. As originally written, the transportation bill that the Senate is now debating broke that tradition by dedicating just 6 percent, or $200 million, to public transportation, which would have meant no relief for Ohio commuter rail and bus programs struggling to maintain and operate their systems.

Brown’s push restored the traditional split between new money for roads and transit, which will mean a fair share for Ohio’s transit systems over the next three years.