Carbajal Reintroduces Small Transit Communities Modernization Act

Preserves funding for high-performing small urban transit provider

Santa Barbara, CA -Yesterday, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) reintroduced the Small Transit Communities Modernization Act. The bill would stave off a steep cut in federal funds that could impact small urban transit providers, including Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (SBMTD). 

Currently, the federal Small Transit Intensive Cities (STIC) program provides funds to transit providers serving urban areas with a population between 50,000 and 200,000 people that exceed average levels of service compared to larger transit agencies. This rewards high-performing small-urban transit agencies, like SBMTD, with additional federal investment to fund projects that increase efficiency and capacity of public transportation. SBMTD has received nearly $1.6 million in funding through the STIC Program. 

However, SBMTD expects to exceed the population threshold following the 2020 census, which disqualifies them from STIC funds and translates to an estimated loss of $1.9 million annually.  The Small Transit Communities Modernization Act establishes a 3-year gradual phase out for communities that no longer qualify for program funding instead of an immediate loss of funding. A multi-year phase out ensures high-performing community transit providers like SBMTD are able to continue offering quality and affordable transportation services to the public.

“Many people on the Central Coast depend on community transit providers to get to work, school, and go about their daily lives,” said Rep. Salud Carbajal. “It is important that we continue to support local transit operators as their customer base grows and they plan for the future. I’m proud to introduce this bill to prevent an abrupt and significant funding cut in order to preserve transportation options as we come out of the pandemic and return to normal activities.”

“The Small Transit Intensive Tier program has long been a vital funding source for MTD, and the proposed phase out provision is an important step to helping the South Coast prepare for the future. This is just another example of Congressman Carbajal’s commitment to serving our local residents,” said Jerry Estrada, General Manager, Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District. “With his support, the federal government provided critical financial assistance over the past year to public transportation operators throughout the country. The financial support has made it possible for MTD to begin to restore service that will play a vital role in safely transporting children to local schools, and students to Santa Barbara City College and University of California, Santa Barbara as we begin to venture back to our normal lives.”

“Protecting federal transit funding is a regional priority,” said Marjie Kirn, Executive Director of Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. “Carbajal’s legislation helps to ensure that access to public transportation is available for all of our communities who benefit from vital federal programs that make access to local bus services possible.”

You can read the full text of the Small Transit Communities Modernization Act here

Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and part of Ventura County. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.


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