Jan. 18, 2024
The Transport Workers Union strongly supports proposed legislation allocating $80 billion in operating funds for transit agencies to improve rail and bus service. The Stronger Communities Through Better Transit Act, introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) today, would allocate $20 billion a year for four years for agencies “to make substantial improvements” all across the country.
Statement From TWU International President John Samuelsen:
This legislation would dramatically improve the lives of working men and women.It would replace the government’s current transit funding scheme, which is completely asinine and void of common sense. Transit agencies would be able to increase and improve bus and rail service so working communities don’t just survive but thrive.
The COVID-19 nightmare that we all lived through proved that federal funding is absolutely necessary for working men and women to get the bus and rail service they need. Emergency operating funds enabled front-line transport workers to keep the buses and trains running. Grocery store workers could still get to their jobs and keep the shelves stocked with food. Nurses could get to hospitals to care for the sick. Firefighters could get to their trucks and battle fires.
But now that the pandemic crisis has passed, the government is again using its traditional funding scheme. Transit agencies receive federal funding for capital projects – which include the purchase of new buses, trains, track, and other infrastructure. But agencies are prohibited from using federal funds for operations – fuel and electricity, wages, and daily maintenance.
So, the government will give an agency a lot of money to buy a bus – but not a dime toward hiring an operator to drive it, or a mechanic to maintain it. It’s moronic and foolish. Working people who rely on buses and trains deserve better.
The TWU applauds Rep. Hank Johnson for leading the fight to improve public transportation for all working people. Link to Sen. Johnson’s release is here