All Aboard Ohio today released its POLICY STATEMENT on how the Ohio General Assembly can create a more multimodal Ohio Department of Transportation. We can achieve more and better transportation choices by spending only $7.5 million more per year to leverage tens of millions more in federal transportation dollars which leave Ohio for other states’ public transit.
The policy statement is timely as the Ohio House of Representatives’ Finance Committee will hold hearings this week on ODOT’s budget. It’s not too late to contact your state REPRESENTATIVE. The Ohio Senate will next take up the ODOT biennial budget for 2016-17. Please also contact your state SENATOR. Kindly keep your communiques with your legislators polite and brief.
The key to All Aboard Ohio’s policy statement is to make better use of existing statutes and limited tax dollars in several ways:
- Ohio budgets approximately $228 million (not including ODOT’s $14.5 million) per year in state and federal funds for Human Service & Public Transportation Coordination, but is spread among five health and human service agencies that tap federal Medicare funds on a 50/50 federal/state matching basis. All Aboard Ohio urges consolidating this funding under ODOT Transit where it can instead leverage U.S. Department of Transportation transit and flexible transportation dollars on a more favorable 80/20 federal/state matching basis either through ODOT’s or the metropolitan planning organizations’ federal allocations.
- Under the new budget, ODOT will retain its legal flexibility under ORC Sec. 203.80 to spend state fuels taxes on public transportation improvements for highway purposes. These include providing high-occupancy vehicle lanes, park-and-ride facilities, public transit vehicle loops, and bridges used by public transportation vehicles including those owned by public transit agencies. All Aboard Ohio urges budgeting $7.5 million in Sec. 203.80 funds and $7.5 million per year in General Revenue Funds to flex $60 million in federal dollars to support the creation of a $75 million-per-year Ohio Transportation Choices Fund to which local jurisdictions can apply to for road, rail, transit, bike, pedestrian, buggy and other multi-modal capital and operating support.
- While ODOT would preserve Ohio passenger rail jurisdiction under its proposed Division of Freight, this is probably not the most appropriate department to oversee recent and future passenger rail funding awards. Passenger rail has more in common with public transit especially as it relates to modal connectivity. All Aboard Ohio urges Ohio’s passenger rail statutory jurisdictions be transferred to ODOT Transit along with the human transportation funding noted in our first recommendation and renamed as the Division of Passengers.
For more information, please see All Aboard Ohio’s POLICY STATEMENT. Feel free to share the document or its link with others, including state legislators!