Alabama is one of only five states with no state funding for public transportation. That lack of investment makes it difficult or even impossible for tens of thousands of low-income Alabamians to get to work, the doctor’s office or other places they need to go when they need to get there. It also means our state economy loses out on millions of dollars of federal transportation money every year.
HB 10, sponsored by Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills, and SB 85, sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, offer a new approach to state funding for public transportation. These companion bills would:
- Create the Alabama Public Transportation Trust Fund to receive future appropriations for expanding public transit options in the state.
- Authorize the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to administer the fund, including making and auditing project awards.
- Require ADECA to adopt trust fund rules, conduct a public transportation needs assessment and make annual reports.
- Create an advisory committee to ensure that projects supported by the trust fund address the needs of rural areas, seniors, and people with disabilities.
BOTTOM LINE: Every year, Alabama leaves millions of dollars in federal transportation money on the table because our state doesn’t put up the matching funds needed to get it. HB 10 and SB 85 would take a sensible first step toward expanding public transportation options in Alabama and ensuring that all Alabamians can get where they need to go.