On Monday, the Bicycle Coalition sent out an Action Alert urging Philadelphia and New Jersey cyclists to send letters to their members of congress requesting that they restore bicycle and pedestrian funding programs in the recently proposed six-year Transportation Bill. According to BCGP, the new bill “sets transportation policy backwards decades” and is not suited for furthering sustainable transportation and livable communities.
Let’s break it down. The bill itself, titled the “Transportation Reauthorization Proposal” was brought forth by the Transportation Committee, led by Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL), on July seventh. The bill highlights “Highway, Transit and Highway Safety Programs,” “Passenger and Freight Rail Programs,” and “Maritime Transportation Programs,” with no actual mention of bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure. The funding for the bill is a proposed $230 billion over six years from the Highway Trust Fund.
In the summary of the proposal, the Transportation Committee included the following:
Surface Transportation Program Reform
- Consolidates or eliminates nearly 70 duplicative programs or programs not in the federal interest.
- No longer requires states to spend highway funding on non-highway activities, but permits states to fund those activities if they so choose.
Passenger and Freight Rail Programs:
Better Leveraging of Federal Funds
- Leverages private sector dollars and expertise.
- Eliminates unnecessary grant programs.
Improves Current Programs
- Reforms underperforming programs, such as the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program, to enhance participation.
- Promotes transparency and accountability in rail programs.
In response, the BCGP claims that:
- The bill does not prioritize bicycling, walking or transit
- Cuts transit system contributions by 34 percent
- Will cause Philadelphia and Camden to lose $100 million in federal funding annually
- Contribute to the loss of 4,500 jobs
- Eliminate Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School, and therefore $10.1 million in bike/ped funding
- And will cause SEPTA, New Jersey Transit and PATCO to lose $118 million