U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined a Missouri representative in Washington Tuesday to outline legislation that would allow small transit systems like Laketran to use more federal funding for operating assistance, in addition to capital investments such as bus purchases. The legislation could essentially change the federal definition of a small transit system. Currently, small transit systems, or ones that service areas with population bases of 200,000 people or less, are the ones permitted to allocate most of their federal funds for day-to-day operations. As the transit authority for Lake County, Laketran narrowly exceeds that limit. The proposed change could produce the kind of positive ripple effect public transportation leaders and riders alike have been awaiting for years - fewer layoffs, less-extreme fare increases or none at all and the overall preservation of transit.
"Too many transit agencies have to choose between cutting service, raising fares or laying off workers," said Brown, who introduced the bill with U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo. "This bill will help free up funds so that Ohio transit workers can continue to provide the service that so many Ohioans depend on."
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