Durbin Announces Nearly $2 Million in Federal Funding for Springfield Transit

Warns of Serious Cuts to Illinois Mass Transit Funding in House Transportation Bill

[SPRINGFIELD, IL] - Transit users in Springfield will soon be able to ride on cleaner, more efficient buses as the result of nearly $2 million in federal transit funding, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today. The Springfield Mass Transit District received $1.95 million to replace five aging buses with new clean diesel models through the Federal Transit Authority.


“These new buses will allow Springfield to save money on fuel and keep our air clean because they use fuel more efficiently and quietly than traditional buses. With mass transit ridership up 13 percent since last year, this federal funding will help Springfield Mass Transit District meet the growing demand for public transportation in Springfield,” Durbin said.


“We must continue to grow our economy and invest in environmentally-conscious transportation projects, like clean diesel mass transit,” Governor Quinn said. “I thank Senator Durbin for leading the charge in ensuring that Illinois receives adequate funding in the transportation bill.”


“I appreciate the Senator’s efforts in securing this funding for the Springfield Mass Transit District,” Mayor J. Michael Houston said. “The funding announced today will bring additional environmentally-friendly clean diesel buses to the streets of Springfield and enhance the quality of our public transit system.”


The Springfield Mass Transit District (SMTD) will replace five heavy-duty transit buses, some of which are as much as 27-years-old—more than double the useful life of this type of vehicle. The buses will be replaced by clean diesel buses which reduce nitrogen oxides and other particulate matter that is emitted and can cause serious respiratory illnesses.


Federal funding makes up only 7 percent of SMTD’s operating budget, but is 90 percent of its capital budget. Last year, Springfield received federal grants for a compressed natural gas fueling station and upgrades to transportation computer and dispatching systems. This year, Springfield will receive more than $1 million in formula funding from the Federal Transit Authority.


Federal funding for all mass transit projects is at risk of serious cuts in a transportation funding bill proposed by the House of Representatives. The legislation would remove the funding of transit programs from the secure and dedicated revenues of the Highway Trust Fund/Transit Account. Instead, the bill would make a one-time transfer of General Funds to a new Alternative Transportation Account and begin subjecting transit programs to an annual appropriations process.


“The House of Representatives transportation spending proposal is devastating to Illinois. Whether you are talking about the Springfield Mass Transit District or the Chicago Transit Authority, transit agencies in Illinois would be hard pressed to operate public transportation without critically important federal funding. For thirty years, public transportation agencies have been able to use these funds to improve services to communities across the country. This bill – which the House is considering next week – ends that agreement, ending all funding to mass transit when it expires in five years,” Durbin said.