United States

Groups, mayors urge U.S. Congress to back $10 billion in new public transit funding

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The U.S. Capitol Building is pictured in Washington, U.S., August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - U.S. groups representing transit systems and city leaders on Monday joined unions and environmental groups in calling on Congress to back at least $10 billion in additional public transit spending along with new funding for high-speed rail.

The American Public Transportation Association, U.S. Conference of Mayors, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Sierra Club, and more than 40 other groups called for the funding in a proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill Congress plans to take up next month.

Last month, the U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure package that included $39 billion for public transit. A bipartisan Senate White House framework deal had included $49 billion for transit.

"They dropped $10 billion, abandoning their own deal for no reason. Now it is up to the House to restore this funding, which will be essential to getting people back to jobs and to essential services and addressing our climate goals," said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America in a statement.

Transit ridership has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since early 2020, Congress has approved $69.5 billion in emergency assistance, including $30.5 billion in March.

U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak, which received about $2 billion from Congress in the year before the coronavirus pandemic, has been awarded $3.7 billion in emergency funding since March 2020.

Nationally, transit ridership remains about 55% of pre-pandemic levels as many people continue to work at home and some riders are opting to use other modes of transportation.

Others signing the letter include the Transport Workers Union of America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO and the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Catherine Evans

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