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House Poised to Vote for Cuts to TIGER, Amtrak, Transit

10:12 AM EDT on June 4, 2015

Tampa's popular Roverwalk was recently completed with help from TIGER funding. The House appropriations measure would slash funding for the program by 80 percent. Photo: Tampa Riverwalk
Tampa's popular Riverwalk was recently completed with help from TIGER funding. The House appropriations measure would slash funding for the program by 80 percent. Photo: Tampa Riverwalk
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Debate began yesterday on a House appropriations measure that substantially cuts transit, rail, and the TIGER program, but of course doesn't touch highway spending. American democracy in action!

Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America has the ugly details:

The programs targeted by the House for cuts are precisely the ones that cities, towns and metro regions of all sizes throughout the country are depending on to help them stay economically competitive and bring their ambitious transportation plans to fruition.

Specifically, this bill would:

  • Cut $200 million for all new transit construction. This comes at a time when public transportation ridership is booming and cities of all sizes are looking to invest in new bus, rail transit, and bikeshare projects to help them stay economically competitive. This program is what Indianapolis is currently using to kick-start their ambitious bus rapid transit network, and scores of other communities are hoping to do the same.
  • Slash the TIGER competitive grant program by 80 percent from last year’s level down to just $100 million. We’re now six rounds into the popular TIGER program, and it’s clearly inadequate to fulfill the huge demand throughout the country. The program has funded innovative projects in communities of all sizes in all 50 states — and in districts both red and blue.
  • Cut Amtrak’s budget by $250 million just a few weeks after the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, and at a time when ridership has never been higher.

To put TIGER funding in perspective, last year's round of grants funded about 50 local projects and cost 18 percent of what was spent widening a single Texas highway where traffic now moves slower than it did before. This is penny wise and pound foolish budgeting.

T4A is asking supporters to email their representatives and ask them to vote against spending cuts.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Chicago Bike Advocate reports that skateboarding is still, in fact, a crime in large parts of Chicago. A View from the Cycle Path explains how to design road crossings to give bicyclists priority over cars: very carefully. And Biking Toronto celebrates Ontario's new tougher distracted driving laws.

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