CLEVELAND -- The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) was well represented in Washington, D.C., this week when CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese, and representatives from 11 other transit agencies from across the country, met with Congressional members to discuss infrastructure funding.
In a series of meetings on Capitol Hill, Calabrese led the group known as the Metropolitan Rail Discussion Group (MRDG). Made up of the nation’s largest transit systems, it represents 60 percent of transit customers in the USA.
“We thanked members of Congress for their hard work on an omnibus bill, which honors 2017 transportation funding levels and which the President is expected to sign soon,” said Calabrese. “We’re also urging Congress to honor the levels of funding already authorized for transportation programs. We want them to know how critical it is that they advance funding initiatives in upcoming appropriations bills in 2018.”
“We had a great response from both sides of the aisle and from both Representatives and Senators. We believe they understood the vital role that transportation plays in moving our nation forward,” he said.
MRDG members include systems in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco/Oakland and Washington, D.C. These legacy public transportation agencies own and operate the vast majority of the nation’s rail transit networks, Calabrese said.
Collectively, these agencies support 27 percent of the nation’s GDP and 22 percent of its jobs – on just 2 percent of its land area.
“Research shows that 87 percent of all trips taken on public transit systems support employment or facilitate commerce,” Calabrese said. “It’s obvious that one of the most important factors in making America greater is a viable transportation system."
The MRDG says that the State of Good Repair (SOGR) transit infrastructure backlog is more than $100 billion.
MRDG systems continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that the unique needs of its member systems are addressed in this critical national debate over transportation funding.