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."