Friday morning, Senator Jon Ossoff introduced the Public Transportation Expansion Act alongside U.S. Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), which would for the first time fund construction of public transportation specifically connecting affordable housing with transit networks in order to serve riders and commuters in low-income communities.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Tina Smith (D-MN) co-sponsored the bill.

Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives alongside Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-07), and Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04).

The Public Transportation Expansion Act will create a Federal grant program to fund public transportation expansion to serve low-income communities and connect affordable housing with transit networks.

The bill would also, for the first time in decades, allow large transit operators to use federal funds for operating expenses, a game-changer for transit agencies.

“I am championing historic transit investments in the reconciliation bill because mobility is essential for opportunity, health, and quality of life — especially in communities that have been historically neglected. This legislation will build public transportation to serve residents in Georgia’s low-income neighborhoods, connecting affordable housing with health care, education, and employment centers while protecting our environment by reducing air pollution,” Senator Ossoff said.

“For many Georgians, physical mobility means social mobility. Hardworking families, from Albany to Augusta, stand to benefit from this additional transit funding that will help to connect students to their classrooms, patients to their health care facilities, and workers to their places of employment,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I am proud to support this legislation to ensure all Georgia riders and commuters have access to the transportation options they need to thrive.”

“To address the affordable housing crisis we must invest in accessible public transportation that will work to provide Nevadans a reliable and safe way to get to work and school,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I have long pushed for federal dollars to help connect our communities so that everyone can get to their jobs, access health care, and pick up groceries, no matter where they live. This legislation will enhance our mobility and it will improve the quality of life for families across the state.”

“When we understand that mobility is essential to freedom – to control your own destiny – we understand that investing in transit in places that have historically been underserved is an investment in people,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I’m pleased to introduce the companion legislation of the Public Transportation Expansion Act in the U.S. House of Representatives to invest in a new, one-of-a-kind program that will connect affordable housing with transit options so people can access health care, education and employment opportunities. I thank Sens. Ossoff and Warnock for their leadership in understanding mobility is essential for opportunity, health, and quality of life.”

“Connected communities are thriving communities,” Rep. Nikema Williams said. “For too long, Black, Brown, and low-income communities have been left behind in transit expansion. I’m fighting for these historic, intentional investments because it’s more than a bus route or train. This legislation is a direct line to economic opportunity for everyone, no matter your ZIP Code or your bank account.”

“Inadequate public transportation hurts communities and hurts our economy. As our cities grow and congestion increases, it is more critical than ever to have public transportation alternatives that work for everyone,” said Rep. Bourdeaux. “I am proud to join Senator Ossoff in introducing this legislation. Strengthening our economy, addressing climate change, and futurefitting our communities depend on making historic investments like this in our nation’s transit infrastructure.”

Sen. Ossoff has consistently championed expanded transit access in the state of Georgia and nationwide.

In Georgia, lack of transit access particularly impacts low-income Georgians and Georgians of color:

  • Just one in 14 low-income households in Metro Atlanta live within a half-mile of a high-capacity transit stop
  • 60% of Metro Atlanta residents cannot access a grocery or convenience store within 30 minutes by transit
  • 70% of Metro Atlanta residents cannot access a single health care facility within 30 minutes by transit
  • Two-thirds of Metro Atlanta’s transit commuters are essential workers
  • In the City of Augusta, Black residents comprise 79% of public transit commuters
United States Senator Jon Ossoff speaks during a press conference at the Atlanta Beltline headquarters on Friday, May 21, 2021. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)