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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis March 8, 2013
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Welcome to APTA’s 38th Annual Legislative Conference!

We have a stellar program this year with distinguished speakers and experts, many of whom are highlighted in the pages that follow. You will hear from officials representing U.S. DOT, members of Congress, House and Senate staff who work on transportation issues, and our coalition partners.

Those of you visiting Washington will have the opportunity to meet with your representatives in the House and Senate. I encourage you to set up appointments with them if you have not already. During those meetings, be clear and concise about why you need increased federal funding to serve their constituents. When you speak to Congress, you speak for yourselves, and for the people you serve.

Those of you who represent businesses must make sure you explain why the federal program is important to you. Cite how many people you employ and how many more you could hire with an increase in federal funding.

Each of you has a unique story to tell. Explain the impact on your riders when you are unable to replace old buses. Tell Congress what it would cost to replace those buses, and what you cannot buy with current local and federal resources. Tell them what more you could have achieved if you had a stable, sustainable source of funding. And how many more people you could have served. As APTA Chair Flora Castillo says, “It’s All About the People!”

Remind them that sustainable, predictable funding of a long-term bill would address this nation’s critical state of good repair and capacity constraints. It would ensure our nation could operate and compete globally.

Public transit, when it is well run, facilitates increased efficiencies for the overall existing transportation infrastructure. It is not about transit; it’s about the more efficient use of already scarce resources. We know that fewer cars on the roads allows for more efficient movement of commerce and enhanced competitiveness. It is particularly critical in this period of limited resources that we make the system work better, more efficiently and at less cost.

Our nation’s citizens are demanding more public transit. Last year, voters nationwide approved 49 of 62 public transit initiatives. That’s nearly 80 percent!

Constituents are voting with their feet, by taking transit, and with their wallets, because they showed they are willing to tax themselves to ensure more and improved public transit options.

Remember that members of Congress deal with literally thousands of issues unrelated to public transportation. So it is our job to help them to understand the crucial role public transit plays in their districts. Cite real-life examples whenever possible. Bring data and remember APTA has many resources you can tap: Legislative Alerts, calls to action, and Issue Briefs. You’ll find these on our website and additional tools in these pages of Passenger Transport.

When you return home, don’t forget to follow up by meeting those representatives in their home districts and inviting them to your systems and facilities.

Federal investment in public transit is key to the future of our nation and the generations to follow. Make sure your representatives know that the taxes that support the Highway Trust Fund, which includes both the Mass Transit Account and Highway Account, will not support even current program levels after MAP-21 expires. Tell your representatives that we cannot afford to cut the public transit or highway programs. Explain that the current Highway Trust Fund can only support approximately 70 percent of the current program levels.

We need more, not less, investment in the nation’s infrastructure if we are to meet the needs of a growing nation and increases in ridership. At Monday’s Opening General Session, I will announce the new ridership numbers for 2012. Stay tuned!

As we look to the future, it is important that as an industry we speak with one voice as we continue to advocate and build momentum for passage of the next surface transportation bill. We’ve already begun to plan for life after MAP-21 by developing recommendations for the next bill and we will be an influential player in discussions about a multi-year transportation bill. We’re working with both the veterans and new members of the 113th Congress, including new House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster, who will be speaking at this conference. Securing a long-term, multimodal bill will ensure that public transit systems and businesses will be able to plan for the future.

The members of APTA’s Legislative Committee’s Authorization Task Force are also developing consensus policy recommendations for the bill that will replace MAP-21. I want to thank the following for their commitment and dedication: Randall Chrisman, board member, Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Nuria Fernandez, chief operating officer, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Carolyn Flowers, chief executive officer, Charlotte Area Transit System; Sharon Greene, principal, ­Sharon Greene and Associates; and Carl ­Sedoryk, general manager/CEO, ­Monterey-Salinas Transit.

I also want to recognize the committee’s chair, Jeff Nelson, general manager, Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, and APTA Vice Chair Peter Varga, CEO, The Rapid, for their steadfast leadership.

Advocating for the interests of public transportation systems and businesses is one of APTA’s most important missions. With the help of our members and our partners, we will continue our mandate to keep fighting for the public transit dollars that have proven to be an engine for growth and a lifeline for mobility.

These are challenging times. We need to have our voices heard loudly and clearly. Each one of you has the power to effect change. As we look to the next authorization, we must recognize that this is a new era; old stand-bys don’t work anymore. If we are to maintain our momentum, now more than ever we must be able to adapt. Only then will we succeed.

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