Advocates for public transit are sounding the alarm about the Michigan House budget, which had a hearing Wednesday in the House Appropriations Committee. The budget proposal would trim $36 million from public-transit programs and related services, in order to preserve funding for road repairs and lower gas taxes. The cuts include 70% of the funding for senior dial-a-ride shuttle vans, which could lead to 350,000 fewer trips per year. Megan Owens, with the nonprofit community group Transportation Riders United or TRU, says the cuts would hit seniors, people with disabilities and lower-income families the hardest.
“The budget that they passed last week would dramatically cut back on many of those services, leaving possibly tens of thousands of people struggling to get where they need to go, just because they don’t personally drive. So, we’re very concerned about those cuts.”
The budget proposal also eliminates funding for a van-pool program designed to reduce congestion, cuts funds to local bus agencies, and reduces state funding for new buses. Republican House leaders have said they want to dedicate existing gas taxes solely to road projects.