TRANSIT: Transit advocates prepping for battle on next highway bill

Support growing in Congress, across the industry; advocates say restructuring of Highway Trust Fund could be needed long-term

April 08, 2014

With Congress working to get a new surface transportation bill authorized as the depletion of the Highway Trust Fund looms, public transportation advocates are working to ensure their cause is well-represented in any new legislation.

Supporters are hoping to avoid a situation like the one that preceded the passage of MAP-21, when early versions from House Republicans proposed keeping transit from receiving Highway Trust Fund dollars. That version of the bill, however, didn’t pass and the status quo remained.

Leaders both inside Congress and in the transportation industry are working to avoid a repeat scenario. The bipartisan Congressional Public Transportation Caucus, formed in 2013, has been gaining support from both sides. On the industry side, the Getting America to Work coalition has been one of the most vocal lobbies for increased transit funding.

Recent events have given transit supporters cause for hope. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee approved an extension and of the pre-tax break on transit fares through 2015, retroactively applied to January 2014.

For public transit to be ensured funding in the long run, however, advocates warn that a restructuring of the Highway Trust Fund could be needed. No suggestions were given as to what that restructuring would look like.