Transit is essential – for our economy, our working families, and our long road to recovery. We need Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Scott to lead the way and fight for at least $32 billion in emergency aid for our nation’s transit systems as part of the next federal relief bill.
COVID-19 has brought public transit to its knees, with transit departments facing enormous challenges to keep riders and operators safe and socially distanced. While the CARES Act mobilized $25 billion of much-needed funding to transit agencies across the United States, many agencies are running out of funds, potentially leaving millions of essential workers without the service they need to keep our society running.
Miami-Dade Transit is on the clock, with relief to only cover a little over a year’s worth of operations. After it runs out, with local budgets in freefall, our transit department could face a 12-month shortfall ranging from $325 million to $484 million. As Florida’s largest transit agency, Miami-Dade Transit - and its thousands of operators and riders - are relying on Florida’s leaders in Washington, D.C. to secure necessary relief beyond 2020.
Our Senators should have a vested interest in safeguarding Miami’s transit system given the federal government’s investment in critical transit infrastructure. Just this year, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project on the South Dade Transitway was granted $100 million from the United States Department of Transportation. This is the largest local transit project since 2012. Public transit undoubtedly plays a crucial role in our urban community - and the long-term consequences of not having a functioning, robust system means more taxpayer money spent on roads we can’t afford in the long run.
Beyond safeguarding infrastructure projects already in the works, investing in public transit will have a demonstrable impact on our ability to financially recover from this pandemic. Research shows that transit operations, maintenance, and capital projects create jobs quickly. Transit operations and projects rely heavily on people – from bus and train operators to track engineers to construction personnel, relief dollars keep people working, and put more people to work in the long run.
On the macro-scale, our national economy will not bounce back without strong, resilient public transit systems in our major cities. On a normal day, approximately 2.8 million essential workers rely on public transit to get to work - from nurses to grocery store clerks to construction workers. Frequent and reliable public transit, which can’t continue without federal relief, is instrumental in connecting workers to their jobs and preventing more devastating economic damage. Our nation’s transit riders should not have to worry about being left behind as they grapple with the devastating effects of this health crisis.
27 transit agencies and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) have already called on Congressional leadership to step up. These agencies provide transit services to nearly 20 million riders and are located in regions that account for 44% of the metropolitan gross domestic product. Without quick and decisive action from our leaders, our nation’s transit systems will be forced to fail us.
Senators: the opportunity to be a champion for transit is now - our riders are counting on you to get on board.