Assembly Dems: More public transit in stimulus

Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, said today he got 19 other Assemblymembers to sign onto a letter he wrote this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, asking her to seek greater investment in public transit as part of the economic stimulus package.

The letter went out Thursday, a day after the House voted 244-188 to pass its $819 billion version of the package, which has $43 billion for transportation projects including $12 billion targeted for mass transit. The U.S. Senate will vote on a stimulus package next week, and then the House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled in a conference committee before it goes to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

“This is the right moment for a meaningful investment in transit that will help America reduce its dependence on foreign oil and improve our environment at the same time,” Torrico said in a news release. “More people are relying on transit systems to meet their transportation needs.”

The letter says more and more people “depend on mass transit in their everyday lives to get to their places of employment, to take their children to school or childcare, and to shop for food and other necessities. Additionally, expanding public transit represents a crucial step for addressing global warming and improves mobility without sacrificing air quality.”

The letter also cites a U.S. Department of Transportation estimate that a $47.8 billion investment in public transportation could support more than 1.3 million green jobs in the next two years, and a California Transit Association estimate that every $1 billion invested in new transit capital projects creates 34,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in local economic activity.

Other Bay Area signatories to the letter included Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco; and Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • nenebird

    Please fix the economic model for public transit before you put any more money into it. it has to pay its way in real dollars. I don’t want to hear the carbon credit argument….Public transit without an economic balance is just another debt we pass to our kids.

  • Arne Simonsen

    With taxpayers paying 100% of the cost of new buses and subsidizing 85% of the cost of fixed route public transit bus fares, perhaps it is time to charge riders what it really costs and give the taxpayers a break!