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Springfield, MO

Letter to the Editor: Missouri headed wrong way for transit funding

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The Missouri Legislature just wrapped up the session, approving a state budget for fiscal 2018 that includes a 24 percent cut to transit operating funding over the prior year. That’s a move in the wrong direction for transit funding in Missouri.

It negatively impacts the service our transit providers can deliver to get people in both rural and urban areas to work, health care and more. It adversely affects our state’s economy. This is especially alarming this week, as the nation marks Infrastructure Week with a call for reinvestment in our transportation systems.

The Missouri Senate upheld the governor’s and House’s recommendations to cut $500,000 in general revenue for transit operating assistance from next year’s budget, effectively limiting transit funding to approximately $1.7 million in state transportation fund revenues, distributed among 34 transit providers in Missouri. This is in sharp contrast to 2002, when transit funding in Missouri topped $8 million in operating assistance.

A recent survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows broad agreement among voters that infrastructure matters to the economy, to the U.S. workforce and to Americans’ daily life. Transit is vital not only to our bustling urban areas where roads are more congested, but also to rural towns and small cities where older Americans need mobility options.  

With legislators now back home, Missourians have an opportunity to tell their individual representatives transit funding in Missouri is going the wrong way. Missouri needs to rethink its priorities in 2018.

—Kimberly Cella, executive director of the Missouri Public Transit Association

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