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Legislature "Missing the Bus" On Transit Funding?

April 11, 2008

Des Moines, IA - With gas prices soaring ever higher, more Iowans are turning to public transit to get around. However, such transportation is not getting much attention at the statehouse as the legislative session winds down. With lawmakers making final decisions on dividing up the money, transit providers say they need a reliable, annual source of funding from the state.

John Rodecker with Key Line Transit in Dubuque says his agency only receives about $170,000 a year in state assistance.

"We have a budget of $2.4 million for FY 09. Needless to say, it's a small drop in the bucket of our overall budget."

The Twin Cities transit agency in neighboring Minnesota receives 63 percent of its operating budget from its state government. In contrast, Des Moines Area Regional Transit gets only six percent of its budget from the state of Iowa. Manager Brad Miller says that's not enough.

"State assistance is predicted to go down next year from what it was this year, despite our rising operating costs."

Miller and Rodecker agree that a stronger commitment to funding transit in Iowa will help conserve limited oil resources and create more vibrant communities.

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IA