Cross-posted with permission from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) wrapped up his nationwide tour of more than a dozen congressional districts Friday in King of Prussia, PA by listening to selected speakers from around the Greater Philadelphia region. Mica was joined by host Congressman Pat Meehan (PA-07) and Bill Shuster (PA-09) on the panel.
Mica, who started the week in Afghanistan and Europe and the day in Scranton, PA, opened the session by stating that he wants to the next federal transportation bill to make proper choices about building infrastructure and the nation’s economy. He also said that he was done with extensions and was going to start drafting a bill in April. That bill, he said, will add in a rail component and identify where red tape could be cut.
The theme of the session was “how to do more with less.” That phrase was uttered over a dozen times throughout the two hours by members of Congress and the speakers. Mica stated unequivocally that the gas tax was not going to get raised, explaining, “It’s not just my position; it’s just not going to happen in the reality in which I live.” He stated that the goal was to find ways to raise revenue without raising taxes. But, to start, he asked the speakers directly, “What do you want changed?”
P3s, or public-private partnerships, were a hot topic. State Senator John Rafferty (44th District), who chairs the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee, spoke about his legislation to create more of these partnerships to raise revenue for transportation projects. Rafferty said states need more flexibility from the feds to toll. He was quick to say that the state needed $20-60 billion to maintain the existing transportation system but that P3s could help supplement.
Cecile Charlton of the Delaware County Transportation Management Association and Rob Henry of the Greater Valley Forge TMA said they already do more with less and work hard to promote all modes of transportation, especially SEPTA, the region’s transit agency. Given the growth of jobs and housing in the counties, having a strong transit system is critical, and Ms. Charlton urged the committee to include public transit as an important piece of the new bill.