I just spoke with Fort Worth Transportation Authority board member Rosa Navejar, who is in Washington meeting with officials to stress the importance of long-term funding for buses and rail. Navejar had hoped to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday afternoon, but the speaker was called away. So instead, Navejar, president of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a delegation of transportation advocates met with Pelosi's senior advisors.
They also met with Congressman James Oberstar, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House transportation committee, on behalf of the American Public Transportation Association. During the past year, Congress has passed temporary extensions of the federal transportation bill, rather than creating a more comprehensive bill that would provide funding for five or six years.
State and local governments, including transit agencies such as the T, say they need long-term funding because so many of their projects take years to build. The T, for example, is trying to raise $500 million-plus to build a commuter rail line from southwest Fort Worth to Grapevine, and plans to ask Congress for a federal grant for half the project.
"I told them I started riding the bus at age 18 and that's how I got to work because I didn't have a car. We were a one-car family," Navejar said during a phone call.
Of the group's goal in Washington, Navejar said, "We want a bill that pays for projects so we can really improve transportation and people can achieve a better quality of life."
— Gordon Dickson