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APTA’s Plan to Authorize Next Surface Transportation Bill Focus of Hill Agenda; Plan Is Result of Industrywide Collaboration

APTA’s blueprint for authorizing the next surface transportation bill includes a wide range of recommendations on such topics as tax incentives, credit assistance, secured loans, and other financing mechanisms to federal programs; formula, capital investment, and state of good repair grants; and workforce development and training, among many other areas.

Overall, APTA is calling on Congress to authorize $100.4 billion from Fiscal Year 2015 to FY 2020 (cumulatively) to fund public transportation, and to increase the current annual funding level of $10.7 billion to $22.2 billion in FY 2020.

The recommendations, at the center of APTA’s legislative advocacy program for the next several months, are the result of a comprehensive initiative to develop in-depth guidance for Congress to consider before MAP-21 expires on Sept. 30.

The year-long process was led by the 125-member Authorization Task Force and its five co-chairs working under the guidance of the Legislative Committee. The recommendations, approved by the Board of Directors, reflect the “consensus views and priorities of APTA’s diverse membership,” states the report, APTA’s Surface Transportation Authorization Recommendations.

“Investment in a national transportation network has been a federal responsibility since the founding of the Republic, and is recognized in the Constitution and through the authorization of such signature projects as the National Road, the transcontinental railroad, and the Interstate Highway System. America grows, her people prosper, and our nation’s international standing is secured when the federal government invests in infrastructure,” the report continues. “Authorization of the federal surface transportation program must reaffirm the federal role and further a vision that directs policy and sets the foundation to respond to new challenges for the coming decades.”

The extensive recommendations are based on 14 key principles, which follow:

1. Authorize a federal public transportation program that provides predictable funding for no less than six years to accommodate the development of long-term, major capital investments needed to bring existing public transportation infrastructure and facilities into a state of good repair; expand current infrastructure investments; support the operation and maintenance of these investments; and support research, training and policy to meet growing demand for safe, convenient, and dependable service;

2. Establish a dedicated Trust Fund funding mechanism that supplements existing dedicated revenues to ensure the long-term sustainability of growing federal public transportation and highway programs through and beyond the next long-term authorization bill;

3. Preserve existing dedicated revenues that go to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and increase revenues to the Mass Transit Account which are dedicated to the federal public transportation program;

4. Preserve a strong federal program for public transportation and oppose efforts to devolve existing federal surface transportation programs;

5. Create funding resources and programs that support growing investment in intercity and high-speed passenger rail in a way that complements efforts to increase investment in public transit and other surface transportation needs;

6. Preserve and enhance current state and local flexibility under federal surface transportation programs funded by the Highway Trust Fund;

7. Sufficient flexibility or discretion must be provided in the distribution of funds to address capital needs that are not adequately funded under formula programs;

8. Authorize a consistent federal match ratio for all federal transportation capital programs;

9. Encourage innovative financing mechanisms to supplement, not supplant, transit grant funding at the federal level, including tax incentives, private sector investment and public private financing. Create opportunities for public-private partnerships and remove barriers to their use in order to capture the potential contribution of the private sector to infrastructure investment;

10. Incentivize state and local investment to supplement federal funding for capital investment needs and operating assistance to meet growing demands for service;

11. Transportation research, standards, technical assistance, and workforce development provide essential contributions to the efficiency and effectiveness of our nation’s transportation systems. Authorize increased funding to support greater investment in research and development programs that maximize efficiency for public transportation systems, and to better address workforce development needs at transit systems and businesses that provide goods and services to the industry;

12. Streamline the transportation project delivery process, including planning and environmental work, to reduce delays and costs associated with delays and harmonize federal regulations for all surface transportation modes, including transit, rail, and highways;

13. Preserve and ensure the consideration of public transportation alternatives within a multimodal regional and statewide planning process, which is designed to achieve sustainable outcomes in plans, programs, and projects. There should be a balance of environmental, economic, and social equity objectives in the process;

14. Promote policies to ensure sufficient resources, including shared responsibility for coordination between human services and transportation agencies, to serve the mobility needs of our nation’s seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities and others who require alternatives to traditional public transportation service.

To download a PDF of the report, visit the APTA website and click on the MAP-21 Resource Center button.

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