September 10, 2021
Pressley, García, Johnson Call for Additional Investments in Public Transit in Reconciliation Bill
WASHINGTON – As negotiations on the Build Back Better reconciliation legislation continue, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) and Congressman Henry “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), and members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee led 64 other colleagues in sending a letter to Senate and House Democratic leadership and key committee chairpersons requesting the final legislation include $30 billion in additional investment for public transportation.
This investment would be part of a bold plan to address transportation’s role in the climate crisis in the reconciliation process. The letter notes that the amount included for public transportation in the final Senate infrastructure package falls well short of what President Biden requested in the American Jobs Plan and is grossly inadequate given the scale of the crisis our country faces.
“As Congress works to draft the Build Back Better Act, we have the once in a generation opportunity to advance bold and transformative investments in our public transit systems in order to support our communities,” said Rep. Pressley. “Safe, affordable and reliable public transportation is a public good and should be invested in as such. As communities across the nation, including throughout the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District, work to combat the very real and urgent threat of climate change, policymakers have a moral responsibility to prioritize robust investments that will help make our public transit systems more accessible and sustainable for generations to come.”
“Diverse, working class communities like mine in Chicago need bold investments in public transportation, and unfortunately the Senate infrastructure bill perpetuates underinvestment and forces essential workers to rely on crumbling, antiquated transportation systems. We must bring America’s infrastructure into the 21st century and begin to undo decades of disinvestment in communities of color,” said Rep. García. “At a time when communities from California to Florida are suffering climate emergencies, the Senate package fails to adequately address climate change. We can’t afford to wait: the transportation sector remains the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and Congress must not lose this unique opportunity to make transformative investments in clean, reliable, and convenient public transportation alternatives.”
“The United Nations released its most recent report on climate change last month, and there’s not a lot of good news,” said Rep. Johnson. “Our emissions are warming the planet and threatening the health and safety of our future. We must act urgently and boldly. Transportation represents the largest sector of emissions in our country, and those emissions are rising. With the national spotlight on Congress over the future of infrastructure and the reconciliation package, now is the time to raise the volume on transit. We need more money for this essential service, but we also need to change our thinking about how we invest in transit. It’s not enough to just build rail lines and buy buses: agencies must also run more frequent service. It’s time for a bigger and bolder federal investment in public transit.”
The letter’s request for $30 billion for public transportation in the reconciliation legislation is endorsed by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Sierra Club, Transportation for America, Transport Workers Union, Alliance for a Just Society, Green New Deal Network, Riders Alliance of New York, Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Active Transportation Alliance.
A full copy of the letter can be found here.
In October 2019, Congresswoman Pressley founded the Future of Transportation Caucus, a Congressional caucus focused on centering equity, access, and sustainability in our transportation systems. In June, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, she led a letter advocating for $50 billion in annual emergency funds to support and sustain our nations public transit systems. Later that month, she introduced the Freedom to Move Act, which would provide federal grants to transit agencies that move to a fare-free model. She re-introduced the Freedom to Move Act in March 2021. Rep. Pressley is also a co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus and a tireless advocate for sustainable and equity focused transportation and infrastructure policies.
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