WASHINGTON – Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced today that the Committee passed his two-year reauthorization of federal transit programs. The Federal Public Transportation Act of 2012 reduces red tape and updates the way funding is allocated to better recognize the needs of transit systems in rural areas and on Indian reservations. The legislation will now move to the full Senate for consideration.
“This legislation is an investment in our nation’s infrastructure, making sure our public transportation systems continue to provide safe and affordable service to millions of American families and commuters,” said Chairman Johnson. “Reliable and accessible public transit is vital for rural areas like South Dakota, and this bill will help service providers in Indian Country and across the state.”
The two-year reauthorization stands to benefit transit service in Indian Country in several important ways. The bill includes a new formula for allocating funds for rural areas, which gives greater weight to a state’s land area and the level of service provided. Additionally, overall funding for transit programs on Indian reservations is doubled from $15 million to $30 million, and this new method of formula funding will give tribal transit providers greater certainty for planning and capital expenditures. If the bill is passed by the full Senate and House of Representatives, all tribes in South Dakota will be eligible for this new transit funding.
To help transit systems maintain their infrastructure, the bill establishes a nationwide State of Good Repair program that will provide $1 million annually to South Dakota. If enacted, these changes will increase South Dakota’s overall annual transit funding by more than $2.4 million compared with fiscal year 2011, reduce red tape, and help keep pace with growing demand for service in the state.
Transit systems in South Dakota have received over $25 million in federal funds since 2006, providing residents across the state and on reservations with reliable and affordable transportation. Nationwide, public transportation offers mobility for residents of rural America. In 2008, residents of small urban areas and rural areas made 621 million trips on public transit.
Senator Johnson took over as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee last year. As Chairman he is responsible for authorizing the transit portion of the federal surface transportation program, which includes rural bus transit systems as well as urban public transportation.