WASHINGTON – Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) announced the Committee passed a 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 rural transit systems in states like South Dakota. 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 reliable service to thousands of South Dakota families and commuters,” said Chairman Johnson. “These increased funds will help South Dakota’s transit providers maintain safe and modern infrastructure, while keeping pace with growing demand for public transportation in the state.”
The two-year reauthorization stands to benefit transit service in South Dakota 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. 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, an increase of 26%.
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.