The secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on Washington as members of Congress consider a transportation bill that would see Illinois lose federal money. Secretary Ann Schneider says a loss of federal gas tax would hurt Illinois’ mass transit systems across the state.
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“We’re very concerned about the provisions that relate to transit,” Schneider said. She says she’s concerned about provisions that could hurt Amtrak and commuter rail service as well, especially at a time when she says ridership is up. “Transit’s important not only to assure mobility for the people that access the system, but also it’s important as it relieves congestion off of our highway system as well,” Schneider said. The proposed transportation bill pending in the U.S. House would slash federal funding for roads and local public transportation in Illinois by $650 million.
Joseph Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Tuesday echoed what some Illinois congressmen expressed concern about Monday: the need for a consistent stream of money into public transit. “You have to have predictability,” Szabo said. He says mass transit has been funded as an integral part of the nation’s transportation system since the Reagan administration and that must continue.
John Porcari, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, says the budget released by the president includes additional funding for public transportation projects. A vote on the transportation bill is expected Thursday.