Letter to the Editor: Federal Support for Public Transit is a Top Accomplishment

The success of public transportation can be traced to one of the late President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest accomplishments, which continues benefiting many Americans today.  

On July 9, 1964, he signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 into law. Subsequently, this has resulted in the investment over time of several hundred billion dollars into public transportation.

The Putnam County public transportation system has benefited with more than $112 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (previously known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration), going back to the 1970s. A majority of the Putnam County bus capital program, including buses, paratransit vehicles, bus garages, fueling stations, fare collection equipment, bus shelters, bus stop signs and other support equipment necessary to run the system were all paid for primarily with federal funding.    

Millions of Americans today utilize various public transportation alternatives. They include local and express buses, ferries, jitneys, light rail, subway and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single-occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with public tax dollars, thanks to President Johnson. 

Depending upon where you live, consider the public transportation alternative. Try riding a local Putnam County transit bus.  

The ability to travel from home to the workplace, school, shopping, entertainment, medical appointments, the library, etc., is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not completely dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. 

Seniors, students and low- and middle-income people need these transportation alternatives. Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment and a stronger economy. Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best investments we can make.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y.