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Fontana to Insist on Dependable Funding Source for Transit
On June 20, 2007
HARRISBURG, June 20, 2007 — State Senator Wayne D. Fontana (D-Brookline) today said he will insist that a continual and dependable funding source for mass transit be part of any transportation funding remedy.
“State government should be doing more to encourage mass transit, not less,” Fontana said following yesterday’s Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing.
“While no one will argue that the transit agencies need to operate in a more efficient and accountable way, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a viable and affordable mass transit system is an economic lifeline for many families — as well as a means to reduce highway congestion in our region.”
Fontana heard testimony yesterday from the heads of both the Turnpike and PennDOT on their recommendations for generating the necessary monies to fix Pennsylvania’s deteriorating road and bridge system, as well as to fund mass transit.
Facing a significant deficit, the Port Authority of Allegheny County has initiated service cuts and will implement a fare hike in January. If mass transit funding is not addressed, Fontana said that future cutbacks could result in the loss of over 18 million riders and force an additional 10,000 vehicles onto the city’s already overcrowded highway system.
“We need to decide on the best possible means to fund a lasting solution for our highway and transit problems,” Fontana said. “And we need to do it sooner rather than later.”
Fontana said he is leaning toward the Turnpike Commission’s proposal, which would generate funds by floating a $4 billion bond over 25 years and begin tolling Interstate 80. He said he opposes the PennDOT proposal that would lease the Turnpike and tax oil company profits.
“I consider the Turnpike a public asset,” Fontana said. “I see no reason for selling or leasing it to a private entity. I also have serious doubts about an oil profits tax that I believe would be passed on to motorists who are already digging deep into their pockets at the gas pump.”