New Infrastructure Bill Guts Transit, EVs, and Safety Programs

The proposed bill keeps road funding almost intact while cutting funding for electrification, rail, and community development.

August 15, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Amtrak Train

John H Gray / Flickr

Despite the "historic" level of funding for transit included in the current infrastructure bill, Kea Wilson writes that the similarly "historic funding for drivers" undercuts any potential progress. According to Wilson, writing before the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" passed the Senate last week, "many sustainable transportation advocates were troubled by top-line funding ratios that would give transit a smaller percentage share of federal dollars than at any point since the Nixon administration, slash 95 percent of funding for a program that would reconnect BIPOC communities sundered by highways, and threw only crumbs to ending the accelerating roadway safety crisis."

Since the 1980s, "a handshake agreement in Washington has essentially guaranteed that drivers get 80 percent of federal infrastructure funding and transit agencies get 20 percent." Despite hopes that the new bill would tip the scale more towards transit, the current agreement does the opposite, "landing at roughly 82/18 — a slap in the face to advocates who hoped to see drivers split the pie 50/50, at the least." According to Renae Reynolds, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, "it’s a suicide mission that prioritizes cars and highways over more equitable and sustainable forms of transportation."

Wilson writes that "[t[he transit category lost about 54 percent of proposed stimulus funding as it went through the partisan sausage-grinder; the 'roads' category, by contrast, lost about 8 percent." Meanwhile, funding for electrification programs has been slashed by 90 percent from the original proposal and "new roadway safety spending could easily be undercut by the continuation of bad roadway policy."

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