MPTA Board Member Sara Fields, executive director of the Ozarks Transportation Organization, provided testimony on behalf of public transit at the House Appropriations-Revenue, Transportation and Economic Development Committee Hearing. Now is the time to contact these committee members about the need for funding for public transit. Below is her testimony:
SARA FIELDS TESTIMONY:
Good morning, my name is Sara Fields and I am the Executive Director of the Ozarks Transportation Organization, the local metropolitan planning organization, based in Springfield, MO. I am also a member of the Missouri Public Transportation Association Board of Directors. Thank you for allowing me to speak today on behalf of public transportation in Missouri.
Transportation is the key to moving Missouri forward, and there is an opportunity in the 2016 Legislative session to make a difference for public transit. Right now discussions are underway about an increase in the Missouri gas tax for roads and bridges with SB 623, which I fully support. However as a transportation planner in the Springfield area and a member of the Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA) representing both urban and rural transit providers, I strongly urge you to build a total transportation funding plan that includes transit in 2016.
Last year our Missouri transit providers received little more than $500,000 for transit operations from the state. That is $500,000 split among 30 plus transit providers in this state. Currently, the State of Missouri ranks near the bottom of the list for funding of public transit. There is an opportunity to increase the support for state funding of transit operations to $1 million. I urge you to do that, but I also urge you to consider making a real investment in public transit that will make a difference for this state.
MPTA transit provider members provide more than 77 million rides almost everywhere for everybody every day in Missouri, and they employ thousands in our communities. City Utilities of Springfield transit department employs 80 residents from Springfield and the surrounding area and provides over 1.5 million rides annually. In addition over 18,000 rides are provided to disabled citizens.
In addition, OATS, which also provides public transit, employs hundreds of Missourians in many of our smaller communities.
Of the 28 buses in service at City Utilities, nine are over 15 years old and have 700,000 miles. Sixteen buses need replacement in the next two years. Additional funding is needed just to keep service functioning at current levels.
We strongly urge you to look at developing a state investment plan for total transportation including transit and make public transit a priority for Missouri. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you.