During Banking Subcommittee Hearing, Senator Warnock Reaffirms Commitment to Invest in Rural Transit, Prioritize Efforts to Spur Economic Mobility

During Banking Subcommittee hearing, Senator Warnock questioned rural transit operators on the federal government’s role to invest in rural transit funding for hardworking families, veterans
Director of Transit for Pelivan Transit (Big Cabin, Oklahoma) says more federal operating funds for rural transit systems “would be a game changer”
Senator Warnock highlighted the connection between creating better transit opportunities for rural Georgians and building stronger financial security, local economies across the state
Senator Reverend Warnock: “Physical mobility is connected to social mobility and economic mobility. And so we’ve got to provide more funding and we’ve got to lower the barrier.”

Washington, D.C. – This week during a Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee hearing on the urgency of expanding rural transit, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) emphasized his commitment to eliminating mobility barriers for rural Georgians and Americans caused by a dearth of transit options in parts of rural Georgia. Senator Warnock underscored the need to increase the amount and flexibility of funding for rural transit systems.

In questioning of Ms. Barbara Cline, the Executive Director of Prairie Hills Transit, Senator Warnock asked Ms. Cline about the scope of today’s rural transit capabilities.

“Public transportation, whether in Taylor County, Georgia, or New York City connects people to their jobs, their schools, families, grocery stores, healthcare, and so much more. Georgia’s 80 rural transit systems serve 95 counties, out of our 159 counties and are a lifeline for many low income and elderly residents as well as veterans,” said Senator Warnock. “[Rural] transit operators … do their best to serve their communities, and get people where they need to go. But limited service – five days a week – is not enough for many families in rural areas without a car or transportation options.”

Senator Warnock then directed his questions to Ms. Kendra McGeady, Director of Transit for Pelivan Transit, on the way in which the federal government provides and disperses its funding for rural transit operators and what more access would mean for rural transit.

“Are we providing right now the right mix of funding and making that funding accessible? What would it mean for you to have more access to more operating funds, […] especially if we lower the non-federal match?” asked Senator Warnock.

“I think that the flexibility in operating would be a game changer for rural transit systems,” said Director Kendra McGeady.

Senator Warnock continued: “Rural areas deserve public transit as well. And while there are fewer people, there’s often more ground to cover. And we’ve got to make sure that people are connected. As I often say, physical mobility is connected to social mobility and economic mobility. And so we’ve got to provide more funding and we got to lower the barrier. Which is why I support Chair Smith and Ranking Member Rounds’ Investments in Rural Transit Act and I hope we can borrow a page from that as we reauthorize surface service transportation programs.”