FULLER, SCHALOW: Transit directors as lawmakers for support

To the editor:

The City of Big Rapids Dial-a-Ride and the Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority join public transportation systems across the country in urging passage of a long-term transportation bill. The current funding extension will expire on October 29, 2015, and the U.S. Senate has moved forward with the first step in the process by providing funding for a three year transportation bill. We now call on the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize the real benefits of investing in our transportation infrastructure, especially public transportation, by passing a bill that provides six years of funding to help grow our local and national economies.

We know that where public transportation goes, communities grow. For every dollar invested in our public transportation infrastructure, four dollars are returned in economic benefits. On the national level, more than $227 billion in economic productivity is at risk to the nation’s economy over six years without long-term Federal investment in public transportation. This national issue has a real impact locally, benefiting residents of Mecosta and Osceola counties in many ways, including improving access to jobs and higher education, supporting economic development and encouraging long-term growth.

Americans recognize the benefits of public transportation, economic and otherwise. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Public Transportation Association and the Mineta Transportation Institute, 75% of Americans support using tax dollars to improve public transportation and close to 70% agree that Congress should increase the level of investment in public transportation infrastructure. Americans realize our infrastructure needs must be addressed with long-term solutions. Other nations significantly invest in their infrastructure, but America now ranks 28th in infrastructure investment and continues to fall behind our global competitors. Is 28th really the best America can do?

Maintaining the condition of our public transportation infrastructure is an issue of critical importance to Mecosta and Osceola counties and our nation. Investment in surface transportation infrastructure is far below what is needed to meet demand and to keep our systems in a state of good repair. The short-term funding packages that have characterized the last decade of transportation investment are not sufficient to support the growth and development of robust and efficient public transportation systems locally and across the country.

We urge lawmakers to pass a long-term revenue source this year that increases investment to support our nation’s transportation infrastructure – including public transportation. To join us in support and to contact our Congressional delegation, please visit voicesforpublictransit.org.

Dawn Fuller,

Director, City of Big Rapids Dial-a-Ride

Ron Schalow

Director, Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority

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