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The new infrastructure bill has $2.8b for PA public transit, but Harrisburg is still on the line

President Joe Biden’s signing of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will have profound impacts for transit riders across the state. The bill is expected to bring $2.8 billion home to the nearly 40 different rural and urban transit agencies that operate transit in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. This funding will allow investments in the long-deferred maintenance of our transit fleets, as well as build new transformative capital projects across the state. However, the bill has no money for transit operations outside of Amtrak, so it is still up to Harrisburg to determine a  state-level transit funding solution to keep our buses & trains running. The Transit for All PA! campaign for an expanded and permanent state funding stream for public transit is the only way for operations to match the ambitions of capital investment.

The federal money allows transit agencies across the state to make investments that will decrease congestion, grow the economy, and improve rider quality. These include:

  • Reintroducing passenger rail service in Northeast PA, including Scranton and Allentown, and improving service through Erie and Pittsburgh. 
  • Funding busway extensions in Pittsburgh and the rest of Allegheny County. 
  • Modernizing stations, light rail lines and bus stops across the state to meet ADA regulations
  • Replacing the 25% of the state’s transit fleet that is past its useful life with new, clean-energy vehicles

These infrastructure investments can be transformational for our state, but no infrastructure on its own will move Pennsylvanians unless state elected officials secure expanded, permanent funding streams for the operations of our transit systems.

The state’s major transit funding bill, Act 89, will sunset at the end of the coming year. Act 89 dedicates $450 million annually towards transit agencies to operate service in all 67 counties, urban and rural, across PA. Without this dedicated funding public transit riders and workers across the state will face fare hikes, layoffs, and service cutbacks that will be catastrophic for individual lives and our state economy. 

With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs act, the federal government will send an historic amount of money to public transit agencies in PA. But none of this funding will be useful if no one funds the trains and buses necessary to run transit. As the effects of extreme congestion and climate change continue to choke more and more of the state, now it is time for Harrisburg to do its job, build upon the legacy of Act 89, and pass a historic transit funding bill to allow for transit operators to move all Pennsylvanians.