Senator Murray Includes Provision to Save Jobs and Avoid Service Cutbacks at Washington State Transit Agencies in Bill Set to Move in Congress

Jun 12 2009

Murray includes language in major spending bill that will keep rail and bus agencies from having to cut routes, slash jobs, and decrease services amid recession

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, announced that she has successfully included a provision in the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill that will enable transit agencies in Washington state and nationwide to use up to 10% of transit formula funding received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) to pay for their own operating costs. As the recession has taken hold, and transit ridership has continued to grow, transit agencies are having serious difficulties meeting their operating needs. 

“With the economy down and transit ridership up, our transit agencies have been struggling to make ends meet,” said Senator Murray. “Many agencies lack the resources to serve our communities and are faced with either cutting services or employees.  This provision will ensure that elderly residents, commuters, and families are not left without the transit services they rely on every day. It will also protect jobs, which is the focus of the Recovery Act.”

Many transit agencies across the country have been planning lay-offs, staff furloughs, and significant service cuts because of the strain on their budgets. Senator Murray’s language, will allow these agencies to use up to 10% of the $6.9 billion in formula grant funding received under the Recovery Act for operating costs.

Senator Murray has heard from transit agencies across the country who need support to cover costs and protect against cuts, including Pierce County Transit whose CEO reacted to today’s news:

“The inclusion of this amendment will allow Pierce Transit to keep valuable service on the street and jobs in our community, while addressing a 15 percent (nearly $10 million) decline in revenue,” said Lynne Griffith, CEO of Pierce Transit.  “We are grateful for Senator Murray’s leadership, this action will give public transportation agencies across the country an important tool to help address the critical loss of operating funds.” 

All 26 transit agencies in Washington state would be eligible to use this funding to cover operating costs.

The Murray language is included in the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill which is expected to be voted on in the Senate and signed by the President next week.