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With Missouri Legislative Session Days Away, Consider the Importance of Transit to This State and Your Community

The Missouri Legislative Session will begin on Jan. 9. Consider reaching out to your elected officials on the need for state support of transportation. Ranking 45th in the country is unacceptable.

The Missouri and Illinois legislative sessions are set to begin on January 9. With Missouri ranking 45th in the nation and well below all of our neighbors with regards to funding for transit at the state level, it is imperative that transit supporters voice their support for state funding for transit early and often with your elected officials. 

Do you live in Webster or Kirkwood and want to ensure the Amtrak service continues? Do you live in Clayton or Richmond Heights and want to see MetroLink expanded West or North and South from the City?  Do you like in North St. Louis and want to see more service north of I-70?  These are all important areas of our region to look at but at this point, without state funding for transit and Amtrak, there will be no expansion of services in the St. Louis region for some time to come.  The Metro transit agency received little more than $200,000 from the state last year for operations.   As a resident of Missouri, if you think transportation is important to this state, now is the time to reach out to your elected officials by phone, mail or email.  

Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), the local transit advocacy organization  in St. Louis, will be focusing its efforts on several priorities this session at the state level:

  • Support MoDOT’s request for $5.5 million for state transit funding
    Support MoDOT’s request for $5.5 million for transit operations in the state this year – $560,875 for State Transit Assistance (from State Transportation Fund); $2,500,000 for expanded State Transit Assistance (from General Revenue); and $2,486,607 for Missouri Elderly & Handicapped Transportation Assistance Program (from both General Revenue and the State Transportation  Fund).  Last year, the state only received the $560,000 in operating assistance.
  • Ensure the inclusion of transit capital projects/public transit in any infrastructure bond package that could move forward at the state level.  Public transit needs to be a key component of Missouri’s infrastructure plans moving forward.
  • Support MoDOT’s request for $7.9 million for twice daily service for Amtrak
    Ridership on Amtrak is up 74 percent over the last five years. Amtrak, the State of Missouri and the federal government are currently investing $70 million in infrastructure improvements including a new Osage River Bridge, universal  crossovers, a third main line in St. Louis, signal upgrades, and a new approach to the Merchant’s Bridge.   Communities along the alignment reap the economic benefits from intercity passenger rail in Missouri, increasing jobs and dollars in the state.
  • Explore new avenues for support for transit/Transit Oriented Development in Missouri. 

CMT’s mission reaches far beyond the scope of the MetroLink expansion debate to rebuilding the St. Louis City, County, and Illinois neighborhoods as a whole by investing in transit. Transit is not just a way to move from point A to B but a means to energize and revitalize existing communities and CMT is excited for the opportunities 2013 will hold. We will be working closely with other organizations in the state to ensure that transit moves up as a priority for Missouri including the Missouri Public Transit Association, KCATA, Greater St. Louis Transit Alliance, labor, and others.

I challenge St. Louisans to get involved this year. Please consider writing a letter to your state and locally elected officials pushing for state support of transit, funding for transit, and expansion of our current system.  Join us at upcoming events this Spring at the Capital to talk personally with your representatives.   We know that our elected officials must hear from their constituents that transit is important to Missouri’s economy.  Even if you have never written a letter before, now is the time to seriously consider dropping your elected officials as well as these key legislators a note, an email or a call.  Here is a draft letter that may assist you in reaching out to your legislators. 

Dear XXX :

Transportation is the key to moving Missouri forward.  I am writing to voice support for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s request for $5.5 million for transit operations in the state this year – $560,875 for State Transit Assistance (from State Transportation Fund); $2,500,000 for expanded State Transit Assistance (from General Revenue); and $2,486,607 for Missouri Elderly & Handicapped Transportation Assistance Program (from both General Revenue and the State Transportation  Fund).  In addition, any infrastructure bond package that could move forward in the upcoming session must include transit as a key component.

Last year Missouri transportation providers received little more than $500,000.  Transit is the key to putting Missouri back on track!  The facts show investment in transit creates jobs.  Research has shown that every dollar invested in transit projects has a $4 return.  There are few investments at this time that can yield a 400% return. 

The current level of state support for transit is inadequate.  The State of Missouri ranks near the bottom of the list (45th) for funding of public transit.  Local funding has hit a ceiling in many areas. In order to compete for federal dollars to put our economy back on track, Missouri must make transit a priority through support and funding.  As an elected official with a MetroLink station in your area, I believe you know the importance of transit to the region and Missouri.  In St. Louis alone, more than 75 percent of the 223,000 daily boardings on transit are for the work commute.  Transit creates, maintains, and sustains JOBS that Missouri cannot afford to lose!

In addition, with an aging population in Missouri of residents 65 years or older, transit is the answer to meeting the needs of our seniors and disabled residents. Transit increases accessibility, connects them to their communities, and keeps them active and healthy. 

I strongly urge you to support MoDOT’s request in the next session and look at ways to go beyond this appropriation to make public transit a priority for Missouri. Sincerely,
XXX

2013 Transit Talking Points

Please contact these key legislators in addition to your own representatives and senators:

Scott Sifton, MO Senate District 1

201 W Capitol Ave, Room 116-3

Jefferson City, MO  65101

Scott.sifton@house.mo.gov

 

John Diehl, MO House District 89

201 W Capitol Ave, Room 309

Jefferson City, MO 65101

John.diehl@house.mo.gov

 

Timothy Jones, MO Speaker of the House District 110

201 W Capitol Ave, Room 302A

Jefferson City, MO 65101

Tim.jones@house.mo.gov

 

Eric Schmitt, MO Senate District 15

201 W Capitol Ave, Room 323

Jefferson City, MO 65101

eschmitt@senate.mo.gov

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