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Former U.S. Transportation Secretary: Cities Need Federal Funding For Transit

By Mark Brodie
Published: Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 12:54pm
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 2:09pm

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A Valley Metro bus in Phoenix
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A Valley Metro bus in Phoenix on April 18, 2020.

As Congress works to come up with its next coronavirus relief package, the American Public Transportation Association is requesting any new deal include more than $30 billion for public transit.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was among those calling for the money

During a Sept. 15 press conference, she said though ridership has been down across the board in the city, those who are using public transit need to continue to have it in operation.

“So many of our riders right now in Phoenix are essential workers — we had a bus go by city hall and it looked to me the majority of folks I just saw were in scrubs so going to important jobs in our medical system, our healthcare heroes.”

Ray LaHood
Obama White House archives
Ray LaHood

Gallego said the city is fogging its transit vehicles three times a week, and doing more regular disinfecting on high-touch areas. She said that comes at a cost, and that the city could use some help.

“In Phoenix we are making decisions looking, going and really trying to understand, 'Is the federal government going to be with us in the long haul?’ Strong signal from Congress would be very meaningful — our transit system is key to getting all of our economies back to where they need to be.”

Among the other voices calling for the feds to step in and help is former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who served under President Barack Obama. The Show spoke with him about the importance of federally funding cities' transit systems.

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