Posts Tagged ‘Ohio public transit’

Trump Budget Would Hit Ohio Public Transit

March 20, 2017

The proposed fiscal year 2018 budget submitted to Congress by the Trump administration would put funding-starved public transportation in Ohio in even more dire straits.

“We’re barely hanging on. It’s just going to make the existing problems even worse,” said Kirt Conrad, president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and CEO of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority.

President Donald J. Trump wants to cut the U.S. Department of Transportation budget by $2.4 billion, which is 13 percent.

Much of the adverse effect on public transportation could come from cuts to grant programs that benefit public transit systems.

The New Starts program, which was authorized to fund $2.3 billion in new rail or bus-rapid transit lines or to expand existing lines through 2020, was used by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s HealthLine on Euclid Avenue.

“It [budget cuts] really potentially cuts future transit expansions in the country in general. It’s not just Ohio; in the whole country, public transit is at risk,” Conrad said. “In Ohio, without the federal support, I do not see those expansions.”

Also slated to be cut is the TIGER grant proram, which has also been used to fund transit in Ohio.

TIGER grants have funded rehabilitation of RTA stations, including the Little Italy-University Circle station and the University-Cedar station.

Two TIGER grants awarded in 2016 funded bicycle infrastructure in Cleveland and Akron.

Ohio transportation officials say the state’s transit systems rely on federal funding because Ohio limits the use of gas tax revenue to road projects.

Further squeezing public transit systems is a coming loss of revenue from a Medicaid MCO sale tax, which had been used for transit funding.

Starting in 2019, public transit systems in Ohio will lose $34 annually from that revenue source.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed increasing state funding for public transportation by $10 million to make up part of the slack being left by the loss of the Medicaid MCO sales tax.

“Access to public transit is just getting worse, not better, in Ohio,” Conrad said.

Although the impact of the proposed Trump budget on highway construction and maintenance funding has yet to come into clear focus, transportation officials say that the loss of TIGER grants will have an adverse effect by removing another source of federal funding.

A $125 million TIGER grant helped pay, for example, for the new eastbound span of the George V. Voinovich (Innerbelt Bridge).

The Trump budget would also shift responsibility for air traffic control from the Federal Aviation administration to an independent, non-governmental organization.

Transit Agencies Gird for Loss of Tax Revenue

August 11, 2016

Eight Ohio public transportation agencies are looking at losing as much as 10 percent of their sales tax revenue in 2017, including agencies in Cleveland, Akron and Canton.

OhioThe cuts are being prompted by the ending of a practice of taxing twice purchases made by Medicaid managed care organizations.

All Aboard Ohio, a passenger advocacy group has called on the Ohio Legislature to provide funding to thee agencies in order to make up for the lost revenue.

AAO said the transit agencies may have to impose service cuts, raise fares and undertake fewer repair projects. Also affected are transit agencies in Portage, Mahoning and Lake counties.

The lost sales tax revenue will hurt the most those agencies that rely heavily on sales tax revenue, including Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Under current practices, sales tax is applied twice to purchases from Medicaid managed care organizations.

The state of Ohio expects to lose $550 million annually from sales tax receipts once the double application of sales taxes ends.

AAO wants the legislature to double the $7 million it appropriates to help fund public transportation. It noted that despite being the 7th most populous state, Ohio ranks 46th in support for public transportation.

Ohio Increases Public Transportation Funding

May 31, 2016

Ohio has increased its funding of public transportation for the first time in more than a decade.

The Ohio General Assembly this month approved a supplemental appropriation for the Ohio Department of Transportation that increased transit funding by $8.2 million.

ODOT 2The move reversed slightly a 15-year decline of state spending for public transportation from $42 million to $7 million.

The increase in funding comes from $6.8 million from a federal TIGER grant and $1.4 million in other federal funding.

Most of the increase will go to the Transit Tech Ohio project to help rural transit agencies purchase hardware and software that allows them to schedule and dispatch transit vehicles more efficiently.

Other funds will be used to reduce fares for elderly passengers.

The legislature, though, tabled amendments by state representatives from Cleveland and Cincinnati to boost transit funding to $97 million annually.