In his “State of the State” address, Gov. Mike Parson touted stronger communities, workforce and education, infrastructure, and government reform as his key priorities. In order to accomplish this and make a real impact, Missouri must make public transit funding part of the budget conversations.
Access to safe, integrated, reliable public transportation systems and services play a key role in stimulating economic development, attracting and retaining business, establishing healthier neighborhoods, connecting individuals to job opportunities, furthering equality, and building sustainable communities. The state has 34 transit providers that collectively provide an average of 60.1 million rides a year. In conjunction with these trips, transit riders are spending $600 million on goods and services, translating into a direct economic impact of $1.28 billion each year in Missouri. Public transit works for people and for the state.
For years the state has allocated only $1.75 million for public transit, a total that is divided among all providers. Metro Transit received less than $1 million from the state of Missouri for its FY2017 budget of $303 million. This means the state helps cover 0.2 percent of its budget. The remainder comes from federal funding and local sources.
Public transit access is a working and reliable asset in communities across the state – but money is needed to maintain it. The Missouri Public Transit Association is urging Gov. Parson to recognize how public transit can help further his priorities and invest in transit operations, paratransit subsidies, and transit access for workforce training. To learn more, visit www.mopublictransit.org.
Kimberly Cella is the executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit and the Missouri Public Transit Association.