ALTOONA – Gov. Edward G. Rendell, Altoona Mayor Wayne Hippo and more than 25 mayors from around Pennsylvania today called on the General Assembly to address critical public transit needs.
“A safe, reliable public transportation system is vital to Pennsylvania’s future economic growth,” Rendell said during a press conference with Mayor Hippo in Altoona. “Public transportation is everyone’s concern because transit systems exist in every county from urban train systems to rural community shared ride programs. And, more people are relying on transit. During the last four years, ridership increased statewide by more than 4 million.
“Our 73 transit systems are facing some very tough times and the potential loss of important connections,” the Governor said. “If Harrisburg does not address the transportation funding issue, Altoona Metro Transit alone will be forced to cut service by 24 percent. And, transit systems all over Pennsylvania face the same tough choices. We are talking about the potential of hundreds of thousands of lost rides, which means people will not be able to go to work, school or see their doctor. We must deal with the transportation funding issue and we must do it now.”
Sixteen mayors’ events were coordinated by the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities in response to the service cuts and fare hikes looming for transit agencies across Pennsylvania beginning July 1. Details about the affect of funding shortfalls on local transit systems are available online at www.Rideonpa.org.
“The public transit crisis has been building for years largely because the state’s 73 transit agencies lack a broad-based, dedicated funding source,” Rendell said. “That’s why I proposed a 6.17-percent tax on oil corporations’ gross profits to generate $760 million a year for public transit.
This funding would fill a long-standing gap and permit transit agencies to plan their budgets with a better degree of certainty and without repeated threat of funding shortfalls.
“State government in Harrisburg cannot walk away from public transportation issues,” Rendell said. “If we do not deal with this issue, people will be left without the mobility they need to live and work. That outcome is simply unacceptable.”
Mayors from cities and boroughs including Allentown, Altoona, Ambler, Bethlehem, Carlisle, Darby, Easton, Erie, Harrisburg, Hatboro, Hazelton, Johnstown, Lancaster, Lansdowne, Media, Narberth, New Castle, Philadelphia,
Pittsburgh, Pottsville, Reading, Scranton, South Coatesville, State College, Washington, Wilkes-Barre and York participated in events today and pledged to contact their legislators to demand a dedicated funding source for public transit.
For more information about the transportation funding crisis and Governor Rendell’s proposals to solve it, visit: www.Rideonpa.org.