If the American Public Transportation Association and House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar are correct, the answer to the nation's jobless rate and economic woes is funding for transit. APTA wants $15 billion for public transportation, while Oberstar wants $69 billion for highway and transit projects.
APTA called on Congress to invest at least $15 billion in public transportation citing it's recently completed survey of public transit systems nationwide, which identified more than $15 billion in public transportation capital projects that can be started in 90 days. It is estimated that this investment in public transportation would support and create more than 450,000 jobs. The vast majority of public transit systems also identified additional needs beyond $15 billion for federal assistance to avoid employee layoffs and service cuts.
According to APTA, research has shown that new jobs in public transportation provide jobs to American workers in industries, which have been hit hardest by the economic downturn, particularly construction and manufacturing.
Meanwhile, Mr. Oberstar (D., Minn.) called for a second stimulus bill to provide at least $69 billion for highway and transit projects. About $48 billion was secured for highway, transit and rail projects in this year's economic stimulus package. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Oberstar said stimulus spending on transportation has directly sustained 21,000 jobs and supported an additional 130,000 indirectly.