UPDATED, JUNE 27th: The Widener amendment was removed from consideration by a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the state’s biennial budget. All Aboard Ohio thanks the committee for its wisdom in removing this destructive provision. It would have had created intrusive governmental regulations to discourage inter-regional cooperation among transit agencies and other jurisdictions. Increasingly, transit services are expanding beyond their host counties to better serve the public, increase access to opportunities for riders and transit providers and enhance fiscal partnerships. Turning back the Widener amendment will let transit agencies better respond to changes in market conditions.
All Aboard Ohio is very concerned about a state budget amendment offered by Ohio Senator Chris Widener (R-Springfield). He threatened a similar amendment two years ago during racially charged opposition to the Dayton Regional Transit Authority seeking to expand public transit service to reach job opportunities and community services in suburban Beavercreek.
Senator Widener’s Ohio Senate amendment to Substitute House Bill No. 59 reads:
A regional transit authority shall not acquire, construct, improve, extend, repair, lease, operate, maintain, or manage transit facilities outside its territorial boundaries until it has provided written notice of its proposed action to the legislative authority of any political subdivision in which the action of the regional transit authority is proposed to take place; and it has received from each such political subdivision an agreement containing the terms and condition for the regional transit authority action.
All Aboard Ohio is very concerned about this amendment as it would place a new barrier in the path of economically and physically disadvantaged people from reaching jobs and services. One out of four Dayton households have no car, according to the U.S. Census. And 1 million Ohioans statewide have no car available — a number that is growing as Ohioans’ household incomes fail to keep up with the costs of living — especially the cost of driving which has risen 71 percent since 2000 (per IRS driving cost standard deduction). Under federal civil rights laws, Ohioans have an equal right to access jobs and services. Transportation policies should not be used to keep growing numbers of our citizens at an economic disadvantage. We urge that Ohio’s General Assembly strike this mean-spirited and punitive language from the final budget bill.
The Ohio Public Transit Association has also taken a strong stance against this proposed amendment, as has the Ohio Environmental Council.