Hohenstein introduces local funding options for transportation

HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., today hosted a news conference on the Capitol steps to introduce his legislation that would provide local funding options for transportation.

“As we have seen this past week, when a transportation crisis occurs, we lean on our public transit system,” Hohenstein said. “SEPTA has stepped up with increased services while I-95 is being repaired. Now we need to step up and give it funding flexibility and give Philadelphia and its surrounding counties the ability to fully support one of the largest people-moving transit systems in the country. Local funding options are essential to the survival of public transit, and public transit is essential for our economic growth.”

"I am proud to stand with my colleagues to support increased funding for public transit,” said state Rep. Ben Waxman, D-Phila. “Public transportation is a critical component to our economy as well as protecting our environment. The PA House Democratic Caucus is committed to fighting to make sure our transit systems have all the resources they need."

“As SEPTA works to respond to the I-95 collapse with added service, equipment and staff to meet the needs of our city and its residents, I am asking council this week to approve a resolution supporting SEPTA and urging state lawmakers to increase their investment in public transportation and enable local funding options,” said Philadelphia Councilmember Mark Squilla.

“The last few weeks have highlighted how important a robust infrastructure system is to our region,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards. “SEPTA is proud to play a role in keeping Pennsylvania’s economy moving forward. This legislation would give our region the tools it needs to make critical investments that will enable SEPTA to continue to help our residents get to work, visit family and make it to medical appointments. It would also allow us to compete for billions of dollars in federal funding through the historic bipartisan infrastructure law. We want to thank our legislative partners for sponsoring this important bill and ask for swift consideration so we can make the necessary investments to provide world-class service to our region and commonwealth.”

"House Bill 1307 will open up the ability to raise critical transit funding for the SEPTA region and Allegheny County to address our aging transportation infrastructure,” said Kwanesha Clarke of Liberty Resources. “While many train stations remain inaccessible, and our entire trolley system uses stairs, we need an accessible system with adequate capital funding to reach the 16% of Philadelphia residents alone with a disability. Seniors and those with disabilities on fixed-route and paratransit must be made a first thought, and not an afterthought."

"In southeastern PA, we have billions in repair backlog, and on-time performance and transit speeds are declining,” said Connor Descheemaker, coalition manager of Transit Forward Philadelphia. “In order to access the federal capital funds to fix these problems and realize transformative projects like Reimagining Regional Rail, we need the ability to raise local dollars. And local transportation funding initiatives help yield greater public support for public transit and made it a competitive option, reducing congestion and improving air quality, from Cincinnati to Phoenix to Denver."

“Clean Air Council supports House Bills 1307 and 902 to create local funding opportunities, which combined with existing state funds can leverage generational investment from the federal government in order to provide more frequent, reliable and accessible public transportation for Pennsylvanians,” said Nick Zuwiala-Rogers of the Clean Air Council. “This critical opportunity to invest in transit cannot be wasted. Public transportation is a key strategy to combat climate pollution, which in the face of wildfires and extreme weather, is more urgent than ever.”

President Business Agent Ross Nicotero of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 said, "Making local funding sources available to improve our fleets and infrastructure is not only essential for ensuring the safety of my frontline workers and the riders we serve, but also good economics. Investing in quality transit infrastructure and maintaining a state of good repair saves our region money in the long run and avoids costly bridge collapses and transit line closures."

"Allegheny County transit riders have long called for transformative projects like the extension of the East Busway into the Mon Valley and Eastern Suburbs, which would serve our neighborhoods with some of the highest ridership levels in the state, and support jobs in our communities. Enabling local source transit funding is a key step towards meeting our mobility and development needs," said Director Laura Chu Wiens of Pittsburghers for Public Transit.

Pa. state Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware, Pa. state Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, Pa. state Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Demetre Penny Harris of Pittsburgh Rapid Response also spoke at this event.

For more information, contact Hohenstein’s office at (215) 744-2600.