Washington D.C. (Dec. 21, 2022) — Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) introduced two pieces of legislation that would fund transformative grant programs designed to elevate US transit infrastructure. Introduced alongside Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ García (IL-04), the Bus Rapid Transit Act would establish a grant program to fund efficient and publicly-owned Bus Rapid Transit systems across the country to improve on and expand high-quality bus services. Similarly, the Light Rail Transit Act would create a light rail grant program to provide grants to public entities to design and implement light rail projects. Transit systems that create jobs, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and serve low-income and urban communities are often underfunded by the federal government. This legislation would empower our transit systems, improve design, and offer far superior and more accessible service.
“For too long, we have let rail and bus services, which are fundamental infrastructure for essential workers and our public transit-reliant residents, go dramatically underfunded,” said Congresswoman Bush. “That is why I am proud to introduce both the Bus Rapid Transit Act and the Light Rail Transit Act, legislation that would grant funds to transform public transit service in St. Louis and across our country. Funding new and existing programs and resources needed for safer and more efficient services will upgrade infrastructure, create jobs, reduce emissions, improve connectivity, and make getting around our communities more equitable. I cannot wait to see more buses and rail cars out in our streets.”
“Access to good jobs, healthcare, education and job training starts with viable and reliable transportation — it is the catalyst that drives our economy,” said Congressman García, co-lead of the Bus Rapid Transit Act. “It’s crucial for our Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems – that many in low-income, Latino, Black, and Indigenous communities depend on – to be adequately funded. This bill will improve traffic patterns, decrease congestion, and ensure our communities get where they need to go in a timely and safe way. This goes beyond a transportation issue. Modernizing our BRT systems is a matter of racial, economic, and environmental equity.”
“Federal investment makes our public transit networks more effective, equitable, and reliable for all,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “I appreciate Congresswoman Bush’s legislative proposals to help expand sustainable public transit options in cities like St. Louis.”
“Public transportation is critical for many people in our community. Families use it to get to get to work, school, and health care appointments. The expansion of Metrolink is a great investment for our region,” said St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page.
“Congresswoman Cori Bush’s transit funding legislation is a great step forward in providing transit systems across the country and the St. Louis region with the resources needed to upgrade and expand transit infrastructure. These new funding opportunities will go a long way toward fulfilling the needs of the communities we all serve,” Taulby Roach, Bi-State Development President and CEO. Bi-State Development operates the Metro Transit system for eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois.
“SEIUHCIIMK enthusiastically supports more funding for public transit. Our members are essential workers in nursing homes and hospitals who depend on buses and trains to get to work, worship and school,” said Ashley Mosley, SEIUHCIIMK Executive Board Member. “Access to transit helps essential workers get to work and strengthens the economy for everyone.”
Bus Rapid Transit Act
The Bus Rapid Transit Act would fill a critical racial and economic equity need in this country. Communities of color are often dependent on public transit to get to and from school, work, and critical services, with Black workers at 3 times less likely to own a vehicle, and Latino and Asian Americans two times less likely. Improving bus service will disproportionately benefit Black, brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities. This legislation would improve mobility by making investment in efficient and effective public transit options, particularly in diverse, metropolitan communities like St. Louis that are most in need.
Additional co-sponsors of this legislation include: Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), André Carson (IN-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Sean Casten (IL-06), Andy Levin (MI-09), Peter Welch (VT), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Grace Meng (NY-06), Linda T. Sanchez (CA-38), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Mark Takano (CA-41), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Marie Newman (IL-03), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Alma Adams (NC-12), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Adam Smith (WA-09), G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Mike Doyle (PA-18), and Jahana Hayes (CT-05).
The Bus Rapid Transit Act is endorsed by: the Sierra Club, Amalgamated Transit Union, Transportation Trades Department (AFL-CIO), Bus Riders United STL, National Association of City Transportation Officials, Climate Justice Alliance, MO Coalition for the Environment, GreenLatinos, Food & Water Watch, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, GreenFaith, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Urban Habitat, SEIU HCIIMK and Sunrise Movement.
“Rep. Bush has put out a bold vision for transit that will advance racial, climate, and transportation justice,” said Bob Allen, Policy & Advocacy Campaign Director, Urban Habitat.
“Rep. Cori Bush’s Bus Rapid Transit Act is the forward thinking legislation we need to put communities first while transforming our buses to clean, efficient infrastructure. Investments in buses and clean transit are investments in young people, working people, people of color, and we stand with Rep. Bush as she strides towards equity while also doing all we can to combat the climate crisis,” said Ellen Sciales, Sunrise Movement.
“The solutions to our climate crisis demand that no community is left behind. The Sierra Club is proud to endorse the transformative Bus Rapid Transit Act to dramatically improve public transit across the country, which will save riders time and money,” said Katherine García, Acting Director of Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign. “Reliable and pollution-free bus systems are a win for climate, for racial justice and economic justice, and for workers.”
“As a youth-led climate advocacy organization, Our Climate supports policies like the BRTA that invest in clean public transportation because young people understand that emissions from the transportation sector are a leading contributor to climate change. Our futures depend on our elected officials taking action on the climate crisis by passing bold and equitable policy that concretely reduces emissions. Young people understand that the necessary and urgent transition to a clean energy economy be accessible and affordable, passing the BRTA is a great place to start,” said Emily Martin, Our Climate.
“BRU STL, the bus riders union in the home district of Representative Bush, unequivocally supports this bill. Improving bus transit in the US is long overdue when we know that accessible, frequent, and reliable buses are the most effective way we can achieve a just and equitable transit system,” said Mitch Eagles, Bus Riders United St. Louis.
“Congresswoman’s Bush transformative Bus Rapid Transit Act is crucial to the urgently needed effort to modernize and make equitable the nation’s public transit system. Latinos in the US use public transit at twice the rate of their white counterparts; these riders are habitually subject to poor service, inadequate infrastructure, and slow speeds, resulting in lost wages and unsafe or unreliable commutes. This legislation will ensure better and more efficient service for the 46% of public transit commuters who ride the bus, and likely will encourage new riders out of their cars to join the sustainable mass transit revolution,” said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, GreenLatinos.
“Far too many of our community members lack access to safe, reliable transportation to get to work, school, and the grocery store. What is worse is that the public transit systems that do exist spew toxic pollutants by running on fossil fuels that harm the health of those living near highways while exacerbating the climate crisis. By investing in clean and rapid bus transit, we can ensure that everyone is able to access the services they need while tackling climate injustices and modernizing essential infrastructure,” said Kunoor Ojha, Green New Deal Network.
“The Bus Rapid Transit Act is the kind of visionary legislation we need to advance a just transition in our transportation system, from fossil fueled automobile dependence to reliable, accessible public transit, powered by renewable energy, and providing good union jobs,” said Basav Sen, Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program.
“The United States needs legislation and elected leaders willing to advocate for life sustaining pathways to our collective future. Efforts such as this bill push for long overdue equity and accessibility in the transportation sector that will be life changing for many who have been left out and hopeful for a healthy, fossil-free future for us all,” said Amy Brooks Paradise, GreenFaith.
Light Rail Transit Act
The Light Rail Transit Act grant program would be used to establish, maintain, and expand light rail systems. It provides flexibility for agencies and communities applying for funds, while also maintaining strong design standards to ensure passengers have the resources and tools they need for seamless travel. Additionally, this bill includes labor and climate standards that would ensure the creation of union jobs and that new rail lines would rely on renewable energy. Like the Bus Rapid Transit Act, this bill would benefit everyone, and disproportionately help those who need it the most.
Additional co-sponsors of this legislation include Representatives Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Nanette Barragán (CA-44).
The Light Rail Transit Act is endorsed by: the Bus Riders United STL, Action St. Louis Power Project, teens for climate stl, Center for Biological Diversity, Trailnet, Rise to Thrive, Food & Water Watch, GreenLatinos, Sunrise Movement, Zero Hour, St. Louis Democratic Socialists of America, Earthworks, Honor the Earth, Oil Change International, and National Association of City Transportation Officials.
“Efficient and widely accessible public transport options are a priority for young people who do not want to travel by burning fossil fuels. Zero Hour is proud to endorse Rep. Bush’s Light Rail Transit Act because these investments are critical to the buildout of emission-free light rail infrastructure,” said Aaditi Lele, Zero Hour Policy Director.
“Trailnet supports the bill due to the grant program requirement for robust community engagement and funding to stabilize existing residents and prevent gentrification during transit-oriented development,” said Cindy Mense, Trailnet.
“We applaud Representative Bush’s leadership to bring equity and justice to our transportation system. High quality public transportation powered by clean renewable energy is a critical component to ensuring a just transition away from fossil fuels. This proposal would help eliminate air and climate pollution while creating affordable, convenient transportation options for all,” said Jim Walsh, Food & Water Watch.
“Congresswoman’s Bush transformative Light RailTransit Act is crucial to the urgently needed effort to modernize and make equitable the nation’s public transit system. Latinos in the US use public transit at twice the rate of their white counterparts; these riders are habitually subject to poor service, inadequate infrastructure, and slow speeds, resulting in lost wages and unsafe or unreliable commutes. This legislation will ensure better and more efficient service for public transit commuters, and will encourage new riders out of their cars to join the sustainable mass transit revolution,” said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, GreenLatinos.
“Working people of St. Louis have suffered for too long thanks to unreliable, insufficient public transportation. This legislation, with its provisions for building high quality service while preventing gentrification residential displacement, insisting on input from labor and advocates, and refusing to raise fares, will be to the benefit of all working St. Louisans while ensuring that its costs are not borne by those who need it most. St. Louis DSA is thrilled to endorse this transformative legislation from Rep. Bush,” said Sarah Arkebauer, St. Louis Democratic Socialists of America.