Hundreds of public transit professionals have come to Washington, DC, to participate in educational sessions regarding the state of public transportation legislation and to hear from members of Congress as part of the 38th Annual APTA Legislative Conference, March 10-12 at the JW Marriott Hotel.
During the weekend, conference attendees participated in APTA committee meetings, the Sunday afternoon “Welcome to Washington” session featuring political commentators A.B. Stoddard and John Feehery, both of The Hill, and an evening reception.
LaHood to Speak on Monday
APTA has prepared a full schedule for Monday, March 11, beginning with “The Insider Perspective on the Transit Industry,” a breakfast session sponsored by APTA’s business members. Former Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH), president and chief executive officer of the Republican Main Street Partnership, will speak at this event. LaTourette was a longtime member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) and led efforts in the House last year to preserve dedicated revenues for public transportation.
FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff and FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo will present an “Update from U.S. DOT” at the opening general session to highlight program changes and MAP-21 initiatives. APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy and APTA Chair Flora Castillo will offer welcoming remarks. Immediately following, staff members for key authorization and appropriations committees will present their “View from the Hill” at another general session.
Following luncheon, which features a conference tradition—a performance by the musical satirical group the Capitol Steps—APTA continues with a choice of two sessions. “Funding the Future of Transportation” is a panel discussion that brings together representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Associated General Contractors of America, and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials with a legislative assistant from the office of Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works and its Subcommittee in Transportation and Infrastructure.
The second concurrent session, “Rail Policy and Legislation in the 113th Congress,” details passenger rail issues facing Congress this session, such as the Passenger Rail Infrastructure and Investment Act (PRIIA) and the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA). Senior staff from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will lead this discussion.
In his last appearance at APTA’s Legislative Conference before stepping down, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood will present the afternoon keynote speech, “What’s Ahead for Transit—New Opportunities in 2013” to conclude the day’s activities.
On Tuesday and Wednesday
Tuesday, March 12, begins with breakfast and comments from members of Congress including House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and House Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI).
During the afternoon, conference participants travel to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and their staffs to advocate for continued growth in the federal investment in public transportation.
Again this year, APTA will host a Capitol Hill reception. This social event provides an opportunity for public transit professionals to meet and greet lawmakers and their staffs in a relaxed atmosphere.
Following the conference on Wednesday, March 13, APTA hosts a half-day FTA workshop on the federal capital investment program. The first half of the program presents an overview of the Final Rule on New and Small Starts, while the second half concentrates on the transit asset management provisions of MAP-21. The workshop is free for conference attendees, but participants are asked to register in advance.