Skip to Content
Streetsblog California home
Streetsblog California home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

President Trump Has Starved Transit Agencies of $854M

The Trump Administration has been starving shovel-ready transit projects of money that Congress had specifically made available — an "unlawful" form of foot-dragging that has cost local transit providers more than $850 million, according to the latest Congressional report that again confirms what transit agencies and advocates have long known.

Streetcars, bus rapid transit, light rail projects have seen their wait time for federal construction funding more than double under the Trump Administration's Federal Transit Administration, according to data provided by the agency itself [PDF]. The slowdown occurs even though Congress has, throughout the Trump Administration, continued to fund transit capital projects at Obama-era levels, about $2.6 billion annually.

Large transit projects waiting for a "full funding grant agreement" — money to start construction — now wait an average of 391 days, up from 176 days during the Obama administration. The administration is simply withholding the already approved money.

All that waiting is expensive. Congressional analysts estimate the Trump Administration slowdown has led to $845 million in extra costs for transit agencies. Federal delays and tougher financing rules, for example, may add as much as $170 million to the cost of the Lynnwood Link Light Rail project in Seattle, Mike Lindblom, the Seattle Times' transportation reporter told Streetsblog.

In a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) called the Trump Administration's actions "unlawful."

"These additional costs were generally covered by local governments, forcing them to scramble to pay for federal inaction," he said. "These unnecessary costs could have instead funded several more transit projects."

What's worse, it appears that the sabotaging of transit projects by the Trump Administration was intentional. In his budget requests to Congress, Trump has repeatedly called for phasing out the "Capital Investment Program," which funds new transit projects. Congress, however, ignored his request and continued funding the program at Obama-era levels.

As a side note, Trump's Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, has been under fire recently for ethics issues. She has reportedly used her authority to help advance funding to transportation projects in Kentucky, to boost political support for her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog California

Automated Enforcement Coming Soon to a Bus Lane Near You

Metro is already installing on-bus cameras. Soon comes testing, outreach, then warning tickets.

April 19, 2024

Friday’s Headlines

SF plans street redesign at crash site; Santa Cruz commission still supports plan to have both trail and rail; State budget includes subsidies for fossil fuel industry; Unhoused camping; More

April 19, 2024

Legislators Tackle AV, School Zone Safety

Are AVs freight trucks ready to be deployed on California roads with no one in them?

April 17, 2024

Metro Looks to Approve Torrance C Line Extension Alignment

Selecting the relatively low-cost hybrid alternative should help the oft-delayed South Bay C Line extension move a step closer to reality

April 17, 2024
See all posts