The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) praised the United States Senate today for passing S. 1813 – the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act” – and providing vital support to mass transit at a time when more and more Americans depend on it to get to work.

The bill, which also authorizes federal aid for highways and highway safety, will continue vital transit funding for two fiscal years. It comes at a critical time, with the RTA and its service agencies about to begin the seasonal construction season. The resulting upgrades will lead to fewer slow zones and delays for riders.

“We applaud the U.S. Senate for keeping public transportation moving forward in this time of economic difficulty, increased ridership and soaring gas prices,” said RTA Executive Director Joseph G. Costello. “We especially thank Sen. Dick Durbin for his leadership and vote on this legislation and Sen. Mark Kirk for his steadfast support of the RTA.”

“The time has come for the House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan measure with the same elements as S. 1813 so that this vital investment in American jobs – and in our future – can continue uninterrupted,” Costello added.

Key provisions of S. 1813, as passed by the Senate, include the following:

  • Continued dedicated funding for mass transit from the motor fuels tax receipts within the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). This will preserve a dedicated revenue stream for the RTA’s capital program, lowering the RTA’s borrowing costs and enabling it to do more.
  • An increased pre-tax transit commuter benefit of $240 per month, reinstating parity with the pre-tax benefit for qualified parking.
  • Recognition of the need for a national State of Good Repair program to address high-cost capital maintenance by establishing a first-time state of good repair discretionary program.
  • Support for a holistic approach to multi-modal corridor planning and continued eligibility for multi-modal transit systems to access bus and bus facilities formula grants.
  • Maintenance of current funding levels for Fiscal Years 2012 & 2013 for mass transit programs at $10.46 billion per year.

The Senate vote comes on the heels of a new report showing a sharp increase in the use of public transportation. On Monday, the American Public Transportation Association released a reported revealing that Americans took 200 million more public transit rides in 2011 than in 2010. In all, American took 10.4 billion rides on public transportation in 2011, according to APTA.

“As the economy fights to recover, more and more Americans are using public transit systems to get to and from work,” noted Costello. “While this is neither the perfect bill nor the long-term solution we need, it’s a step in the right direction.”

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Press Contact

With three transit systems and more than two million riders a day, there is always something interesting going on at the RTA. Get the latest scoop on everything all in one place. For all media inquiries, please contact Susan Massel, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, at 312-913-3256 or at communications@rtachicago.org.