The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has been passed by the Senate. That’s an excellent start in addressing our long-neglected physical infrastructure. And now the bill goes back to the House of Representatives for concurrence. In the regular order of business, the House would negotiate and then concur with amendments made in the Senate. But this bipartisan deal did not follow the normal process, essentially negating the ability of House members to negotiate. This is unfortunate because the bipartisan infrastructure package eliminated several important funding streams that transit and mobility justice advocates supported in the House passed Invest Act.
A remaining option to reinstate the eliminated provisions is to have them included in the Reconciliation framework begun in the Senate. The provisions our national coalition support are:
- Restoration of $10 billion in funding cuts: The Senate bill cut $10 billion dollars from public transit that was already agreed to by both parties. We need the House to hold the line and honor the original commitment. Any reconciliation package must include an additional $10 billion for public transit to fulfill Congress's promise to our communities. We are excited about the inclusion of $1.75 billion for the All-Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) to improve access for people with disabilities, but that alone is not enough.
- Commitment to funding transit operations: The funding for transit in the Senate bill goes exclusively towards capital projects — not the day-to-day costs of running buses and trains. Operating expenses represent two-thirds of total public transportation costs. CTA, Metra, and Pace are on their own to raise this money, relying on an unreliable combination of fares and sales tax revenues. Congress must go back to the way it was in the 70s and 80s with annual federal support for transit operations.
- Support for equitable transit-oriented development: The Transit-Supportive Communities section of the INVEST Act featured important ways the federal government can support equitable development near transit stops and stations. Equitable transit-oriented development policies are critical to improving access and opportunities for high-need residents and families in communities across Illinois. The House should restore this focus on ETOD in the package.
If you support these provisions, please call your House of Representative Member or call (202) 224-3121 for the U.S. House switchboard operator if you need their number. Ask your Member to support these provisions because new buses without drivers or new rail cars without operators is a partial solution to increase transit service.