U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to improve public transportation in certain rural communities across the country.
The Federal Transit Administration provides grants to support rural public transportation, but legislators say it can be difficult for certain rural communities to provide the necessary local contribution to qualify for assistance.
“High-quality, reliable public transit systems are important for Minnesotans who count on them to get to work, school, the doctor and more,” Senator Smith said in a statement. "This legislation will support rural public transit in communities that need it most."
The Investments in Rural Transit Act would increase the federal share to 80% for operating assistance in certain areas with high transit dependency. For a transit project to qualify, it must serve a county that meets one of the following criteria:
- An “area of persistent poverty,” defined by the Census as a county in which at least 20% of the population has lived in poverty during the most recent 30-year period.
- A county with many older Americans, where at least 25% of residents are over the age of 65.
- A county with healthcare shortages, defined as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).
- A county with low population density, defined as having no more than 20 people per square mile, based on Census data.
SOURCE: Office of Senator Tina Smith