August 01, 2003

U.S. Bill Could Eliminate Funds for Cycling, Safety and Transit

The bill, which has passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and Independent Agencies, would cut funding in half for Amtrak, the U.S.’s intercity passenger rail system. Amtrak President David Gunn has identified $1.8 billion as the minimum funding level needed to avoid a costly shutdown ­ the bill would provide only $580 million.

The bill would also abolish the Transportation Enhancements program that gives states and local communities the freedom to use gas tax revenues for bike paths, Safe Routes to Schools, historic preservation, and other sustainable mobility projects. The bill also cuts a program that helps low-income people in cities reach their increasingly suburbanized jobs. Also threatened are several programs of the Federal Transit Administration that are helping pilot Bus Rapid Transit and other public transit programs get started.

While not all of these draconian changes will pass, these proposals will force the coalition of sustainable transportation and environmental groups to focus solely on saving the status quo rather than pushing for more progressive changes. A letter outlining their position is available from the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

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