Earlier this week, I had the honor of addressing the American Public Transportation Association’s legislative conference. Deputy Secretary John Porcari and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff also spoke to APTA members.
Why all three of us? Because APTA's mission, "To strengthen and improve public transportation," is a goal this Department deeply believes in. This Administration has made transportation a priority--and affirmed that commitment, not just with words, but also with actions. President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal invests $129 billion in transportation. We’re talking about a 127% increase in support aimed at improving safety, service, and reliability.
Over the next six years, the President proposes $119 billion to keep the nation's transit systems in a state of good repair. And because we know Americans want more options for getting around, this money will also allow us to help expand transit services and make communities more livable.
In these tough economic times, some cities don't have the resources to cover their transit operating costs. But too many Americans depend on transit service to get where they need to go, so we can't let temporary shortfalls lead to cuts in service. The Administration's proposal allows communities with significant unemployment to use federal transit grants temporarily to help with operating costs--up to 25 percent in the first year, 15 percent in the second year, and 10 percent in the third year.
Public transportation connects Americans. When travelers fly into an airport or ride a train into a downtown station, transit is there to get them to their final destinations. When commuters don't want to struggle with roadway congestion, transit is there to get them to their jobs. When residents can't afford a car or can't drive, transit is there to get them to shops, schools, and essential services.
Every day in our cities and towns, transit workers are planning, building, maintaining, repairing and operating these vital systems. Here at DOT, we think that’s incredibly important.