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Miami -- In response to soaring gas prices, Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the US Conference of Mayors today called for the President and the Congress to provide additional funding and tools to create, promote and expand public transportation and other mobility opportunities.


A resolution authored by Mayor Hannemann and approved by the USCM at its annual meeting also calls on the President and the Congress to support immediate adjustments to existing federal transportation commitments by raising funding levels for public transportation above current spending authorizations, eliminating the bias in federal tax law that substantially favors parking benefits over mass transit and other commuter benefits.


“The federal government can play a vital role in alleviating the worsening energy crunch by providing more support for the creation of mass transit alternatives to automobiles,” Mayor Hannemann said. “Supporting mass transit is also the responsible approach to protecting our environment, and that’s something we take very seriously in Honolulu.”


He noted that the INRIX traffic information firm this month ranked Honolulu as having the worst drive-time travel time in the nation, and found that Honolulu also has two of the worst 100 traffic bottleneck areas in the nation – eastbound Moanalua Freeway lanes by the H-1 freeway interchange, and the eastbound H-1 lanes by Kalihi Street.


The USCM action comes as the US House is preparing to hold a hearing on the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008 (HR 6052). The measure could be heard as soon as tomorrow, and authorizes $1.7 billion in immediate funding to increase public transportation use across the United States. Transit agencies may use these funds to reduce transit fares or expand transit services in order to provide incentives for commuters to choose transit options. These funds will allow transit agencies to provide incentives for commuters to choose transit options, thereby reducing their transportation-related energy consumption and reliance on foreign oil, as well as decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions.


The mayors noted that passengers took 10.3 billion trips on public transportation in the US during 2007 – the highest number of trips in 50 years, according to the American Public Transportation Association – and that mass transit ridership is continuing to climb at a record pace with first quarter 2008 ridership increasing by 3.3%. 


The USCM resolution notes that cities throughout the US, including Honolulu, are seeking to build new rail transit services. The measure calls on local and state transportation decision-makers to utilize the flexibility in existing laws to direct funds to projects and programs to help defray the costs of these new transit services, as well as support expanded carpool and vanpool programs, synchronize traffic control systems and enhance bus services. 


Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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