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Opinion: Missouri may leave federal transit dollars on the table

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $91 billion in funding for transit. These dollars could significantly influence Missouri’s ability to provide critical access to jobs, health care, and education  — however, there is a catch. Non-federal or local match funds are required. Without it, states will be leaving federal funding on the table.

Kimberly Cella

Therein lies the crux of the issue in Missouri. The Show-Me State ranks No. 45 in the nation with regard to transit investment. For the last four years, Missouri has only allocated $1.7 million in local funding for transit, and that total is split between 34 transit providers. Any federal funding support for transit operations requires a 50-50 match, and capital programs need an 80-20 match. Missouri transit providers have worked diligently to identify local funding sources through sales tax, private contracts, and more, but the most significant missing link in the formula is the lack of state funding.

OATS Transit, the city of Joplin, and Metro Transit — to name a few — could secure federal funding for capital and operating needs, yet the local match is elusive.

The state legislature has an opportunity in 2022 to ensure Missouri can draw down federal funds. The Missouri Department of Transportation appropriation request is $8 million for transit. This is a local funding level not seen in state investment since 2002. We encourage elected representatives to stand in support of this request. It is desperately needed.