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Crapo secures increase in transit funds for Idaho

Idaho gets nearly 150% increase; cleaner air could result

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a markup Thursday renewing a six-year authorization for federal transit programs, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo won an increase in formula transit funding for Idaho of 148 percent over the life of the bill. The changes mean bus programs, vanpools, and other mass transit efforts in Idaho will see an increase from $33.4 million over the past six years of the program to $82.5 million, spread over the next six years.

Working with Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) and Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), Crapo was successful in changing the funding formula determining spending for transit programs in rural states. Today's markup before the Senate Banking Committee on the transit programs is expected to be approved by the full Senate over the next two weeks.

"States like Idaho face special needs for mass transit and are under the gun to improve air quality. Part of the answer is to encourage people to ride mass transit offerings, but rural states like Idaho have never received their fair share of funding for these transit programs," Crapo said.

"By pointing out these inequities, we have been able to rework the rural density formula under the TEA-21 transit bill. These changes will distribute funding more equally and allow for increased traffic connectivity for communities whose basic services and employment centers are long distances from one another, such as Idaho."

Crapo said the Transportation Equity Act known as TEA-21 expired at the end of last September and was extended until the end of this month.

He added the funding formula changes also would benefit seniors, many of whom depend on mass transit.

"Currently, Idaho's rural and urban transit needs are not being met. We need more van pools and other low-cost systems to help citizens in rural areas, and more transit service for senior and disabled citizens to lead fuller and healthier lives. These changes also mean our growing urban areas will benefit from the new funding as well, preemptively addressing pollution and sprawl issues, which are already of concern in Ada and Canyon Counties."