Langevin Supports Transportation Bill

Dec 3, 2015 Issues: Disabilities, Transportation, Vote

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) applauded House passage today of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five-year, $305 billion transportation bill that funds infrastructure improvement projects, provides budget stability and improves federal transit and safety programs.

“Transportation infrastructure impacts our lives and our economy in so many ways. It is a quality of life and safety issue for all Americans, and strong infrastructure is the foundation for a strong economy,” said Langevin. “In Rhode Island, our infrastructure needs are significant. This bill not only provides the funding for important highway, bridge and public transit projects, but it also brings predictability to the process of budgeting, planning, and ultimately completing improvement projects across the state.”

The legislation includes language – adapted from Langevin’s Transit Accessibility Innovation Act – that would encourage transit systems to make public transportation more accessible and user-friendly for individuals with disabilities. Under current law, transit systems may use up to 10 percent of their Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds to provide paratransit services. Langevin’s proposal, which successfully passed as part of the overall bill, would increase that to 20 percent if the transit system is able to address accessibility deficiencies and improve service in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Accessible public transportation is essential for people with disabilities to live independently with strong ties to their communities. By improving their ability to connect to public services, education, employment and health care, we empower these individuals and put them on a path to success,” said Langevin, who co-chairs the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus. “Equal rights and equal access for all Americans is our responsibility, and I am thrilled that this bill prioritizes transit accessibility.”

Langevin also signed onto a letter to protect high density states’ transit allocations, a proposal that was included in the legislation, thereby protecting one-third of the total federal funding received by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA). Overall, Rhode Island will receive an additional $102.8 million in federal highway funding, and another $11.9 million in federal transit formula funding.

The FAST Act is supported by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Transportation Association, National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“More funding is needed to truly address our nation’s aging infrastructure, and going forward, we must seriously examine transportation funding mechanisms to ensure appropriate resources are available,” Langevin continued. “But just one day after a bipartisan education reauthorization passed the House of Representatives, we were able to come together again to pass a major piece of legislation that represents a promising step in the right direction. Uncertainty has plagued the Highway Trust Fund for too long and short-term fixes have stunted both infrastructure improvements and job growth. Today’s vote reverses this trend and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to support strong, predictable funding for transportation.”