LaHood not yet on board with Senate transit measureBy
As a group of U.S. Senators prepare to fight for a $2-billion transit rescue package that could help the MTA avert sweeping service cuts next month, one potential ally hasn’t yet embraced the bill. As Andrea Bernstein at Transportation Nation reports, Ray LaHood, President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, has not yet endorsed the bill. While speaking with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer yesterday, LaHood expressed concerns over finding the $2 billion without pushing the country further into the red.
“We haven’t endorsed it,” he said, “because we really need to look at how we pay for that or how the Congress is going to pay for it. But we’re in discussion with Congress on a regular basis about these kinds of transit problems — lower ridership and lower resources. It’s an issue. We’ve talked to Congress a lot about it, these things have to be paid for too, it’s one thing to say you’re going to appropriate x amount of dollars but we’ll continue to keep a watchful eye on it.”
LaHood’s press secretary later explained that the secretary’s use of present tense simply means that, as of now, the administration is not endorsing the bill. Implicit in that statement is a belief that the administration would consider supporting the transit operations rescue package if an appropriate source of funding could be found. As it is, New York, for example, would still have to face the reality of an inadequate funding scheme for transit, but if federal money can close the gap until the end of 2011, perhaps by then, real estate taxes will increase enough to cover the MTA’s budget gap.