House Committee Approves Transit Bill

WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure earlier this month approved a broad transit bill that aims to support public transportation agencies and increases incentives for commuters to choose transit options

HR 6052, known as the “Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008”, addresses the nation’s energy crisis by encouraging the growth of public transit, proponents say.

“As the price of gas approaches $4 a gallon, more and more commuters are choosing to ride the train or the bus to work rather than drive alone in their cars,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the Committee. “It is a priority of this Committee to increase the use of public transportation by providing incentives for commuters to choose transit options.

“If more people utilize the various public transportation options that are available to them, we can reduce energy consumption and reliance on foreign oil, as well as decrease greenhouse gas emissions,” Oberstar said. “This legislation authorizes $1.7 billion over two years for transit agencies nationwide to reduce fares and expand transit services to meet the needs of the growing number of transit commuters.”

In addition, HR6052 increases the federal share for clean fuel and alternative fuel transit bus, ferry or locomotive-related equipment or facilities, which will reduce transportation-related emissions. The bill also extends the federal transit pass benefits program to all federal employees.

Currently, federal agencies are only required to offer the program in the capital region.