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Legislative Conference Features Transit Experts, Focuses on Issues

More than 550 public transportation leaders gathered in Washington, DC, March 12-14 for APTA’s 42nd annual Legislative Conference to discuss the federal role in public transportation and make the case for increased investment.

The conference gave attendees an opportunity to hear from members of Congress, key congressional committee staffers and media insiders; pose questions to federal policymakers; and visit elected leaders on Capitol Hill.

Read brief reports of the conference’s sessions starting below and continuing elsewhere in this issue, along with a page of photos.

Members of Congress Address Conference
While many members of Congress have said they support funding for public transportation, it’s time for them to prove that their interests go beyond talk.

That was the gist of Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) March 14 remarks at the APTA Legislative Conference. He pointed to November’s passage of public transit funding measures totaling about $200 billion nationwide and eight Republican-led states raising their gas taxes as evidence that the public is willing to pay for improved operations.

Referring to President Trump’s call for a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, Blumenauer said he believes a deal can be struck with the president and key legislative leaders.

Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) echoed Blumenauer, saying that infrastructure should be the nation’s top domestic priority and now is “potentially a transformative time for infrastructure in this country” with verbal support from most congressional Democrats, many Republicans and the president.

Delaney said his priorities are to put more people to work with middle-class jobs, help U.S. businesses compete globally and improve individuals’ quality of life, adding that a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure would address all three issues.

He called for infrastructure funding to be included as part of federal tax reform, explaining that the projects will never develop without guaranteed funding.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who participated in the session via Skype, comes from a transportation background, including a tenure as project manager of the Texas Central Railway, a private high-speed rail line planned between Dallas and Houston.

“Of all the issues I care about, transportation is at the top of the list,” Moulton said.

“There’s a lot of talk about how terrible our infrastructure is, how we need to put in money to repair it, but we have to make sure those investments are wise.”

As an Iraqi War veteran, he was approached by a nonprofit organization that encourages veterans to run for Congress.

Conference photos by Steve Barrett Photography
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