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Obama's Budget Includes 6-Year, $478 Billion Authorization Plan; Allocates $144 Billion for Public Transit

President Obama has included $478 billion for a proposed six-year surface transportation authorization bill--a reworked version of the four-year GROW AMERICA Act proposed last year--in the $4 trillion Fiscal Year 2016 budget he released Feb. 2. The budget includes $94.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for DOT for FY 2016.

The budget includes an $18.4 billion increase in FTA funding in FY 2016, up from $11 billion in FY 2015, along with $13.9 billion for Transit Formula Grants and $3.25 billion for Capital Investment Grants (New Starts). The proposal would also fund BRT-style investments through the Rapid Growth Area Transit Program at $500 million and again recommends the Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) program, a TIGER-like performance-based incentive grant program which would be funded at $500 million in FY 2016.

The budget proposes to rename and restructure the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as the Transportation Trust Fund and to add rail accounts that currently are not captured in the HTF.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy praised the budget proposal. "I applaud President Obama for highlighting the importance of investing in our country's transportation so that economic prosperity and global competitiveness continue. Maintaining the status quo would be a step backwards and a grave mistake. It is essential that the federal government significantly invest in public transportation to ensure our country's economic well-being," he said.

Transit formula grants in FY 2016 would total almost $14 billion under the proposal, compared with $8.6 billion enacted in FY 2015. Capital investment grants would account for $3.25 billion, up from $2.1 billion, and a new Rapid Growth Area Bus Rapid Transit Corridor grant program would receive $500 million.

The TIGER grant program would receive $1.25 billion per year and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program would receive an additional $6 billion over six years.

The proposal includes specific New Starts and Small Starts funding for 25 rail, BRT and streetcar projects in 13 states. The largest individual grant, $265 million, would go to Honolulu's high-capacity transit corridor. Four projects--the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Third Street Light Rail-Central Subway, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension in San Jose, CA, Regional Transportation District's Eagle project in Denver and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Cambridge-Medford Green Line Extension--would each receive $165 million. For the complete list, click here.

Also in the proposal are $320 million for Accelerated Project Delivery and Development, a new category that would provide an opportunity for other projects in the pipeline to move forward if they become ready for a construction grant prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Other highlights include a new Office of Safety Oversight to coordinate safety efforts across modes and a $29.4 billion, six-year Critical Immediate Safety Investments Program.

For details, see APTA's Legislative Alert here or visit the White House website.
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