Skip to content

Hirono Leads Colleagues in Introducing Legislation to Incorporate Art in Public Transport Facilities

~ The STAR Act would reinstate a federal flexibility that allows local transit authorities to include art in federally-funded transit projects ~

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, ahead of World Public Transport Day, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) led the introduction of the Saving Transit Art Resources (STAR) Act, legislation that would allow local transit authorities to incorporate art into federally-funded transportation project through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

“Through its many forms, art is a reflection of our cultural and societal values,” said Senator Hirono. “It has the power to engage people and form connections and art in public transit has been shown to provide numerous benefits, such as encouraging ridership, deterring vandalism, and enhancing rider experience. For example, each of the stations on the Honolulu rail line incorporate unique artwork that celebrates the history of those communities. The STAR Act would enable local transit authorities to utilize federal funding to incorporate art into public transportation facilities once again, making art more accessible to the public and fostering a sense of safety, place, and identity in communities across the country.”

Since the 1800s, public art has been incorporated into U.S. transportation projects to help make mass transit friendly to commuters and communities. In addition to encouraging ridership and deterring vandalism, incorporating art into these projects has helped create a positive perception of public transit and increased safety and security. Transit agencies across America, including those in Hawaii, have employed artists as planners, engineers, community relations staff, and architects, to enhance their projects by integrating artistic elements.

However, since 2015, federal transit law no longer allows FTA funds to be used towards the incremental costs of incorporating art or non-functional landscaping into facilities. In addition, once FTA funds are used for a transit project, local funding adopts the same federal restrictions, thereby limiting the ability to use those funds to incorporate art into these projects. The STAR Act would reverse this prohibition and restore local control to transit authorities regarding the integration of art and non-functional landscaping into federally funded transit projects and facilities.

The bill is cosponsored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).

The bill is also endorsed by Americans for the Arts.

“The arts can play a significant role in providing accessibility, educational opportunities, as well as building the social and cultural aspects of the communities in which its residents take pride,” said Nolen Bivens, President, and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Whether it’s a mural, a musical installation, sculpture, or practical yet innovative way of finding solutions in transportation and infrastructure projects across the nation, the arts contribute to the aesthetic appeal and engagement of our neighborhoods. All of this in turn supports jobs and economic prosperity as found in our recent Arts and Economic Prosperity 6 Study. Senator Hirono’s introduction of the Saving Transit Art Resources Act, furthers the ability to continue the necessary integration of art into our communities as advanced during the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and White House Domestic Policy Council Convening on Whole-of-Government Approach to Arts and Culture which I fully support.”

The full text of the bill is available here.