MURPHY, BLUMENTHAL, NORTHEAST SENATORS UNITE IN CALL TO SAVE ESSENTIAL FUNDING FOR THE MOST DENSELY TRAVELLED REGION IN THE COUNTRY

HARTFORD – Citing the devastating impact of a House provision in the recently-passed Surface Transportation bill on the most heavily travelled and densely populated corridor in the country, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), along with their colleagues from across the Northeast Corridor, have united in an urgent request to leaders on the conference committee asking them to stand firm and preserve Senate language on critical funding for transit service in high density regions. If the House provision stays in the final bill, at least $1.6 billion over six years could be cut from formula funding for northeast states. Sudden and severe cuts in funding to these high density regions could have a serious impact on safety, capacity and reliability in communities that are most reliant on public transportation.

“Transit systems in this region account for approximately half of all trips taken nationwide, and the region supports 20 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. The urban areas negatively impacted by the House provision face unparalleled congestion that cannot be addressed by building new highway infrastructure alone,” the Senators wrote. “Continued access to high-quality transit alternatives is a necessary priority that requires the funding provided through the Section 5340 program … [W]e urge Conferees to reject the short-sighted House provision.”

The letter, led by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), was signed by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (Both D-N.Y.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren (Both D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), , Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tom Carper and Chris Coons (Both D-Del.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.).

The letter can be downloaded here. The full text is below.

November 13, 2015

The Honorable James M. Inhofe The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Environment Senate Committee on Environment
and Public Works and Public Works
205 Russell Senate Office Building 112 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John Thune The Honorable Bill Nelson
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Commerce, Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation Science, and Transportation
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building 716 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Richard C. Shelby The Honorable Sherrod Brown
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Banking, Senate Committee on Banking,
Housing, and Urban Affairs Housing, and Urban Affairs
304 Russell Senate Office Building 713 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch The Honorable Ron Wyden
Chairman Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Finance Senate Committee on Finance
104 Hart Senate Office Building 104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members,

We are writing to urge you to recede to the Senate position regarding Section 5340 transit apportionments. This formula provides a core investment for some of the most congested and transit dependent Urbanized Areas (UZAs) in the country.

During the House consideration of H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, an amendment was adopted to eliminate the Section 5340 density apportionments and further increase funding for a competitive bus grant program. While many of us support the concept of increasing funding for a discretionary grant program for bus and bus facilities, it makes no sense to slash existing commitments to transit agencies to do so. Elimination of the density formula would be disastrous for our States and the entire Northeast Corridor. Funding for transit systems that serve Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia would be cut by at least $1.6 billion over six years. Some transit agencies would see their overall apportionments cut by nearly one-third.

The Northeast Corridor is the most heavily travelled and densely populated corridor in the U.S., and having safe and efficient transportation is critical to not only the region, but also to our nation as a whole. Transit systems in this region account for approximately half of all trips taken nationwide, and the region supports 20 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. The urban areas negatively impacted by the House provision face unparalleled congestion that cannot be addressed by building new highway infrastructure alone. Continued access to high-quality transit alternatives is a necessary priority that requires the funding provided through the Section 5340 program.

For these reasons, we urge Conferees to reject the short-sighted House provision and recede to the Senate position.

Respectfully,



Cc: Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Mitch McConnell