The Metropolitan Council has a great idea: let's take the federal stimulus dollars and use it to keep the buses running in the Twin Cities Region.
Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell said Monday the problem is so bad he'll need to raid other funds and use federal stimulus dollars not to build but merely to pay operating and maintenance costs to avoid cutting service.
The council — Metro Transit's parent agency — faces a projected $45 million shortfall over the next two years, and Bell said that deficit will likely grow as the economy continues to contract. A major reason is transit relies on proceeds from a tax on motor vehicle sales, which have plummeted.
While every transit agency in the country wants to do this I am glad some are starting to speak out loud and let the elected officials know what is going to happen if the dollars don't go towards maintenance and general operating costs. Is this the best use of money, I am not completely sure, but would we rather see the local bus system deteriorate over the next three years? I think not.
Right on. While there is much to be excited about around stimulus funds for transit, if the money is strictly relegated to capital there will be a few shiny new buses, no money to maintain and repair the large number of buses in the national fleet that are aging and not in a 'State of Good Repair". There will be jobs created to manufacture the new buses, for sure, but how will that job creation compare to the jobs lost by bus drivers, or the impact on workers that use transit when their routes to work are chopped?
Check this info on "State of Good Repair" http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/SGR.pdf
The Feds allow a portion of the formula funds for buses to be used to fund ADA paratransit operations, and a big chunk can also be used for "capital maintenance" of regular buses, that is, heavy maintenance such as rebuilding engines and transmissions, rehabilitating interiors, etc.
As far as I know, the stimulus bill will not change these rules.
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