Transit Funding Bill an Important Step to a Cleaner, More Accessible Transportation System

Statement by Steven Higashide, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 18, 2024

WASHINGTON (January 16, 2024)—Today, Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) introduced the Stronger Communities through Better Transit Act, a bill that would establish a funding stream for supporting mass transit system operations in communities around the country. This bill is a smart strategy to support more transit service, resulting in lower pollution and more transportation options, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Steven Higashide, director of the Clean Transportation Program at UCS.

“People across the country need more choices in how they get around, whether they live in rural communities or major cities. The way we plan and fund transportation in this country has been hyper-focused on cars rather than people; this bill would help change that. Investing in better transit service will cut pollution, reduce congestion, support local economies, and help people get where they need to go.

“If passed into law, this bill would authorize $20 billion to support transit operations every year for four years. UCS analysis suggests this level of investment could lead to a 38 percent increase in transit service—nearly 100 million hours of additional bus, train, and paratransit service every year. That could make high-quality public transportation services available to millions of additional people, improving their ability to get to work, run errands, go to medical appointments and stay connected to friends and family. And everyone will benefit from cleaner air and less traffic on the streets.

“Transit access is vital to the 60 percent of public transit riders who are people of color, to seniors and people with disabilities, and to the over 10 million households in the U.S. who don’t own cars. This bill would help prevent cuts to transit service that disproportionately affect people of color. State governments have documented substantial gaps in rural public transit systems, which worsen social and economic isolation. In addition, the transportation sector is a major cause of health-endangering air pollution and the largest source of global warming emissions in the country. Giving people the option to use transit dramatically reduces transportation-related pollution, an indispensable step toward reducing the risks of climate change.

“Transportation should be a system that supports people—and to build that system, we must invest in it. Thank you to Representative Johnson for introducing this bill to help us get to that cleaner, safer future.”