Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit could soon lose $200,000 of federal funding per year, based on a bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The long-term highway bill, the “DRIVE Act,” was passed by the House on Nov. 5. During a late night legislative session Nov. 4, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican representing the 3rd District of Washington, proposed an amendment to defund the “5340 High Density States Program.”
This program sets aside about $526 million for seven states plus the District of Columbia that provide for over 50 percent of all public transportation consumers in the country. New York is one of these seven states, along with New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland. Beutler’s amendment shifts the money in this fund to the Competitive Bus Grant program, which transit agencies in all states would have access to.
“The idea that seven states have available to them more money than all 50 states combined isn’t fair to the communities in my state or in yours or in the other 43 states,” Beutler said during a speech on the House floor. “My amendment would simply move the funding from the seven-state set aside program into the Competitive Bus Grant program and allow all states to compete for these much–needed resources.”
TCAT would lose $200,000 per year if the bill gains final passage in its current form. The bill funds the Department of Transportation for six years, which would cause a $1.2 million loss in funding to TCAT over the lifespan of the bill. The Senate version of the DRIVE Act does not include the defunding amendment.
Frank Proto, chairman of the TCAT board of directors, said in a press release he was disappointed with the House’s actions.
“I am getting whiplash. The feds want us to provide affordable transportation for our respective constituencies, but they refuse to participate in the cost to provide that service,” he said.
A special conference committee is currently resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.