Georgia’s United State State Senators have introduced the Public Transportation Expansion Act in an effort to fund construction of public transportation specifically connecting affordable housing with transit networks in order to serve riders and commuters in low-income communities.
U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock filed the legislation, which is the first of its kind. It has the support of Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Tina Smith (D-MN).
The Public Transportation Expansion Act will create a Federal grant program to fund public transportation expansion to serve low-income communities and connect affordable housing with transit networks. The bill would also, for the first time in decades, allow large transit operators to use federal funds for operating expenses, what Ossoff called “a game-changer for transit agencies.”
Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson also filed companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives with members of the Georgia congressional delegation, including Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) and Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-07).
“I am championing historic transit investments in the reconciliation bill because mobility is essential for opportunity, health, and quality of life — especially in communities that have been historically neglected. This legislation will build public transportation to serve residents in Georgia’s low-income neighborhoods, connecting affordable housing with health care, education, and employment centers while protecting our environment by reducing air pollution,” Senator Ossoff said.
Ossoff’s office cited the following statistics as a partial basis for the bill:
- In Georgia, lack of transit access particularly impacts low-income Georgians and Georgians of color:
- Just one in 14 low-income households in Metro Atlanta live within a half-mile of a high-capacity transit stop
- 60% of Metro Atlanta residents cannot access a grocery or convenience store within 30 minutes by transit
- 70% of Metro Atlanta residents cannot access a single health care facility within 30 minutes by transit
- Two-thirds of Metro Atlanta’s transit commuters are essential workers
- In the City of Augusta, Black residents comprise 79% of public transit commuters
“For many Georgians, physical mobility means social mobility. Hardworking families, from Albany to Augusta, stand to benefit from this additional transit funding that will help to connect students to their classrooms, patients to their health care facilities, and workers to their places of employment,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I am proud to support this legislation to ensure all Georgia riders and commuters have access to the transportation options they need to thrive.”
“When we understand that mobility is essential to freedom – to control your own destiny – we understand that investing in transit in places that have historically been underserved is an investment in people,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I’m pleased to introduce the companion legislation of the Public Transportation Expansion Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to invest in a new, one-of-a-kind program that will connect affordable housing with transit options so people can access health care, education and employment opportunities. I thank Sens. Ossoff and Warnock for their leadership in understanding mobility is essential for opportunity, health, and quality of life.”