House Passes Bill to Boost Transit Funding, Includes $237M for NYC
With transit ridership up across the country, Congress may finally be taking notice. Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008. Sponsored by Minnesota Democrat James Oberstar, the bill would allocate $1.7 billion in grants to public transportation over the next two years. The grants would help transit systems expand or stave off service cuts due to rising costs and budget reductions. It also includes a provision requiring federal agencies to offer transit benefits to over a million government employees.
Crain's reports that, according to Rep. Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan, New York would receive $237 million for transit if the bill clears the Senate and the White House, marking the "first time federal money would be used to support local mass transit operating costs." Advocates hope that adoption of the bill would set the stage for a priority shift in next year's big transportation funding package, the successor to SAFETEA-LU.
H.R. 6052 would have included a provision requiring oil companies to make the most of their federal land leases before opening up new areas to drilling, but that measure died under pressure from House Republicans and the White House.