October 11, 2010
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APTA Adopts High-Speed Rail Legislative Principles
Recent federal policy for high-speed and intercity passenger rail has been enacted in pieces through a series of federal bills that include the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, and several recent federal transportation appropriations bills.
Plans for a national system of high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail (HSIPR), however, mean that longer-term legislation is critical. As a result, APTA has taken the lead in developing a proposed legislative framework for an ongoing federal program.
At its recently concluded Annual Meeting in San Antonio, APTA adopted a set of principles for federal legislation on HSIPR in the U.S. The principles address federal funding mechanisms, the grants process, and other aspects of the program. On Oct. 3, the APTA Legislative Committee and Board of Directors unanimously approved them.
The principles call for the upcoming federal surface transportation authorization bill to include a high-speed and intercity passenger rail title, funded with not less than $50 billion over the initial six-year authorization period. As with the interstate highway system 50 years before, the vision for the program would be represented through a national map and corridor descriptions that reflect defined and agreed-to corridors, all of which would be completed over a multi-year period through a system of scheduled federal payments. Drawing from a dedicated and predictable federal source, projects would be allocated sufficient funds to ensure their completion according to a reasonable schedule.
The APTA working group that developed the principles was chaired by Stan Feinsod, co-chair of the Commuter and Intercity Rail Legislative Subcommittee, with direction and support from J. Barry Barker, vice chair-government affairs; Bill Volk, chair of the Legislative Committee; and Jolene Molitoris, chair, High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee. [Editor’s note: Since the vote on governance, some of the titles above have changed.]
Members of the working group were former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer Downey, senior advisor for Parsons Brinckerhoff; Stanley Rosenblum, division vice president for Jacobs; Peter Gertler, vice president and high-speed rail services chairman for HNTB Corp.; Albrecht Engel, who recently joined Amtrak to head a new high-speed rail department after serving as vice president and high-speed rail director for AECOM; David Kutroski, managing director of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, Oakland, CA; Allan Rutter, former administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; Nazih Haddad, chief executive officer of the Florida Rail Enterprise at Florida DOT; Daniel Duff, counsel at Thompson Coburn LLP; Charles Wochele, vice president for business development at Alstom Transport; Richard Bacigalupo, deputy chief executive officer, Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA; and Paul Staley, policy coordinator at Ohio DOT.
The working group benefited from the considerable expertise of APTA members concerning processes and practices of Federal Transit Administration formula and discretionary grant programs, and applied this knowledge to the effort.
With the adoption of these principles, APTA will be able to work even more closely with Congress and the administration to help shape an ongoing program, ideally in the context of authorization of a comprehensive surface transportation bill.
The complete text is available online.