The outline from the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee last week shows significant cuts to transportation and public transportation in the upcoming authorization. In response, APTA sprang into action to show members of Congress and their staffs exactly how a cut of more than 30 percent and the loss of 141,302 public transit jobs looks.
In response to the drastic cuts proposed in the committee’s outline, APTA has taken a number of actions including outreach to its network of public transportation advocates, riders, supporters of public transit, and Congressional staffers who need to know the real-world impacts of these cuts.
The Don’t “X” Out Public Transit initiative is one way public transit agencies can provide a context for what these cuts mean to their communities, riders, and schedules: by placing a red “X” on 30 percent of their trains, buses, shelters, facilities, or signage to illustrate how federal cuts might prevent the replacement or the continued operation of vehicles or facilities. APTA business members are also being asked to participate by placing a red “X” or signage in and on their facilities to show the impact on jobs.
This campaign, based on a successful event held last year by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, provides a stark visual of what would happen to public transportation systems, riders, and the community at large if such draconian cuts are implemented.
APTA also urges its members to contact their members of Congress and let them know the vital role that public transit systems plays in the daily lives of their constituents and in efforts to strengthen the economy. The members of Congress can then share with their colleagues examples of the importance of preserving and expanding public transit across their communities and why investment needs to be protected. A sample letter is available on the APTA web site.
APTA is garnering participation in its letter-writing campaign with the help of its more than 40,000 Facebook friends, the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates, and 14,000 petition signers.
Finally, APTA is partnering with a Capitol Hill publication to host a briefing on the importance of transportation investment. APTA will leverage information from a nationwide APTA member survey that will offer real-world examples of the impact of a more than 30 percent cut in federal funding. This will provide an opportunity for Congressional staff to hear from a panel of experts on the state of the industry’s infrastructure, why APTA must continue to address surface transportation needs, and how allowing the nation’s infrastructure to bear the brunt of budgetary constraints leads to long-term repercussions.
House Proposes to Rescind ARRA High-Speed Rail Funds
Separate from cuts in public transportation funding in the T&I Committee’s outline for a long-term authorization bill, the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill being considered on the House floor would rescind unobligated funds that were provided for High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
While the bill does not specify an exact amount that would be rescinded, approximately $2.15 billion of the $8 billion in HSIPR funds appropriated under ARRA has not yet been obligated.
APTA has been working with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who chairs the Congressional Bicameral High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus, to speak out against the rescission.