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American Public Transit Association Urges Trump to Invest $200 Billion in Transit

The details of Trump's infrastructure plan have yet to be released, and transit agencies want to make sure transit is accounted for when they are.

by Ginger Christ, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland / March 15, 2017
ASCE

(TNS) -- CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If President Donald Trump were to direct 20 percent of the $1 trillion he pledged to invest in the nation's infrastructure to public transit, it would have a big impact on transit agencies across the country, American Public Transportation Association members say.

The details of Trump's infrastructure plan have yet to be released, and transit agencies want to make sure transit is accounted for when they are.

"This additional investment is the key to addressing the nation's aging public transportation infrastructure," APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White said during a press conference Monday.

Transit in the U.S. needs $90 billion to bring systems to a state of good repair, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. More than 40 percent of buses and 25 percent of trains are in marginal or poor condition, White said.

Last week, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its most recent report card on infrastructure in the U.S. The country scored a D+, but transit scored a D-, which was the lowest score of the 16 categories analyzed.

Nationwide, 57 percent of public transit funding comes from state and local sources, while 43 percent comes from the federal government, White says.

"We have an opportunity to bring together a bi-partisan effort amongst Congress and the Administration to revitalize main street America with smart investments in local public transit," said APTA Chair Doran Barnes.

Local needs

Of the 3,250 transit vehicles in use in Ohio, about one-third need to be replaced, according to an Ohio Department of Transportation transit needs study.

Locally, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has a backlog of $500 million in projects through 2021, most of which involves replacing the agency's aging rail cars, said Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO.

"More money will allow us to get to some of these things more quickly," Calabrese said.

RTA also needs additional funds to replace the two other tracks at Tower City, which is the nexus of the agency's rail system.

"It's very critical for us. We know we need to replace them in the next couple of years," Calabrese said.

If Trump approves $200 billion for transit as agencies hope, roughly $50 million could be sent to RTA annually for the next 10 years, Calabrese estimated.

©2017 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.