U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has called for bipartisanship rather than politics as Washington lawmakers struggle to come up with a compromise on a new transportation bill to fund highway and transit operations and improvements. According to reporting by Malia Rulon Herman in the Daily Record (May 9), Menendez is one of 47 lawmakers from both Houses and both parties who met for the first time on May 8 to try to forge a compromise between House and Senate versions of the bill. Under the Senate version, New Jersey would get the highest public transportation funding ever, $519 million per year, an increase of $63 million; the total funding, including highway, would be $1.5 billion for New Jersey. Public transportation funding continues to be controversial, with Republicans wanting to slash dedicated mass transit funding. Currently, 2.86¢ of the 18.4¢ per gallon federal gasoline tax is reserved for mass transit. Menendez said that he was committed to protecting mass-transit funding.
The Lackawanna Coalition believes that a stable, long-term funding source for transit capital and operating budgets is essential if public transportation is to survive, improve, and satisfy increasing demand for service.