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Conservative Think Tank Addresses Transit Funding; New Report: Create Consensus

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy joined the Washington, DC-based research institute Free Congress Foundation (FCF) at a June 24 event to unveil a report that calls for a renewed consensus to support transportation funding efforts.

“Both parties recognize the connection between transportation and a well-functioning economy,” Melaniphy said. “With that in mind, how can we overcome partisan differences to agree on a plan to keep America moving?” He suggested that the report, Meeting Our Transportation Funding Challenges: We Must Build a New Consensus, issued by FCF, offers several ways Congress could finance a strong national transportation system.

Private partnerships have an increasingly important role, Melaniphy noted, expressing appreciation for the federal/state/local/private partnerships that make public transportation possible. “Seventy-four percent of FTA funds going to public transit projects end up with the private sector—the people who design and build the projects,” he said. “These projects depend on good investment to succeed.”

FCF President and Chief Executive Officer James S. Gilmore, former Virginia governor and past chair of the Republican National Committee, noted that the event was one of several in a longtime partnership between FCF and APTA, and he acknowledged APTA’s thought leadership on transportation policy.

Both he and Melaniphy recognized the organizations’ 20-year history of collaboration to build bipartisan support for public transportation and to emphasize the importance of a strong, multimodal transportation network to a healthy U.S. economy.

Other event speakers discussed the same theme. “U.S. infrastructure is at a ­crisis point,” said Sherry Little, partner and co-founder, ­Spartan Solutions LLC, and a former FTA deputy and acting administrator. She called P3s an “untapped resource,” but emphasized that they can only supplement, not substitute for, public investment.

Janet F. Kavinoky, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Congressional and Public Affairs Division, called the discussion of infrastructure funding “critically important” and said increasing the number of partners improves the process.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), co-chairman of the House Public Transportation Caucus, stated that Congress needs to take immediate action to shore up the Highway Trust Fund and its Mass Transit Account. “The more times we kick the can down the road, the more expensive the process will be,” he said.

For details, visit the FCF website.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy, left, joins James S. Gilmore, center, president and CEO, Free Congress Foundation, and FCF Adjunct Scholar Michael C. Genest, report author, at an event calling for a new consensus to support transportation funding.

Photo by Steve Barrett

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