Media Center

Jul 30

Transit Union urges Rejection of DRIVE Act’s Shameless $2 billion giveaway to foreign corporations

Congress urged to pass real bipartisan transit bill that meets America’s mobility needs

Media Contact: David Roscow, 202-487-4990

Washington, DC - Calling it a “shameless, partisan, and unprecedented, nearly $2 billion giveaway to private – mostly foreign – corporations that have a long history of providing low quality transit service,” the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) called on the Senate to reject the DRIVE Act,” the transportation bill reported from the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee.

In honor of David Letterman’s recent retirement, ATU sent a letter to all Senators on the top five reasons for people who care about public transportation to vote against the DRIVE Act.

Heading the list is an unprecedented and overreaching provision that would result in the massive privatization of public transportation to the detriment of transit riders and workers.

Outsourcing of public transportation to foreign multinational transit corporations and the inevitable decrease in maintenance and service it leads to has created “transit deserts” in urban and rural areas, slowing commerce, and making it much more difficult and expensive for those without cars to commute to good jobs.

“These parasitic foreign contractors routinely pay their workers less than living wages, and send profits overseas that could have gone to decent wages, which in turn, would be spent locally, and increase the tax base,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley.

The DRIVE Act eliminates metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), which would allow state departments of transportation to go back to the old policy of unilaterally deciding the location, mode, and allowable costs of transportation projects, without local input.

In 1991, Congress wisely recognized that transportation decisions are best made on the local level. With the passage of this bill, transit once again takes a back seat, with no voice at the table. It’s back to the dark ages.

Outrageously, the DRIVE Act threatens bus and truck safety by prohibiting the analysis of violation information, enforcement prioritization, not-at-fault crashes, alerts, or BASICS percentiles developed through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA)Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)program from being made public.

Over the last decade, three times as many people were killed as a result of intercity bus accidents as compared to commercial airline crashes. One reason for this is that the Fair Labor Standards Act exempts interstate bus companies from the requirement of paying overtime.Criminally low-paid drivers who work second jobs during their “rest breaks” are falling asleep at the wheel endangering themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on our highways. But, the authors of this bill don’t want any information made public that would bring attention to this problem.

The DRIVE Act does nothing to restore the bus funding that was effectively cut in half under MAP-21, the current transportation-funding act.

The letter pointed out that transit systems around the country are keeping their buses on the road longer than their federally recommended useful life, because federal cuts have made it impossible for them to buy replacements.This has resulted in new burdensome local maintenance expenses, and possibly dangerous vehicles on the road.

The bill is a partisan product, and it shows. There was no mark up and no opportunity to offer amendments to the public transportation title.

The letter concluded, “…we urge you to oppose the agreement reauthorizing surface transportation programs (substitute amendment to H.R. 22), and to pass instead a bi-partisan bill that meets the mobility needs of the millions of Americans who rely on public transit each day.”