January 26, 2018
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Two Unofficial Reports Focus on Public Transportation and Infrastructure Initiative

A six-page document leaked Jan. 22 that purports to be an outline of the Trump administration’s infrastructure proposal explicitly includes public transportation, but does not identify dedicated funding for transit projects.

The White House has refused to comment on the document, which was cited in numerous media reports.

Among other ideas, the unofficial “funding principles” call for federal grants to incentivize state and local investments in infrastructure, federal funding for major “transformative projects,” a dedicated rural program and financing mechanisms including the use of public-private and public-public partnerships.

The administration is expected to formally release its plan after the State of the Union Address, Jan. 30.

A second report outlined a proposal by a White House representative that would cut existing transportation programs, including funding for public transit and Amtrak, to pay for the administration’s infrastructure initiative.

In a statement, APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas urged Congress and the administration to increase investment in the public transit infrastructure bill and opposed any proposed decreases. He said, “We strongly oppose any cuts to public transportation and intercity passenger rail programs to fund an infrastructure initiative. These reductions would harm the American economy and communities of all sizes,” stating that “Public transportation is an integral part of America’s infrastructure ... an essential element in making the nation’s transportation network function.”

See the complete statement at the APTA website.

Calls for Greater Investment in Transportation Security
TSA Administrator David Pekoske and John Kelly, DHS acting inspector general, testified Jan. 23 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on emerging threats to surface transportation. Both spoke to the need for bolstering funding to secure surface transportation, which APTA is on record and has submitted testimony as supporting.

Kelly highlighted the need for increased investment in rail, transit and highway security, with just 2 percent of TSA’s budget applied last year to ­surface transportation.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), chair of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, emphasized the need for TSA to step up measures to protect surface transportation in light of December’s attack on the New York City subway.

Pekoske noted that TSA expects to submit an updated national transportation security plan to Congress this August, which would ensure that adequate funding would be included in the next budgetary proposal cycle.

FY18 Budget
With the federal government funded through Feb. 8, 2018, negotiations between Congress and the White House will need to address increased spending caps, which are necessary to pass regular FY 2018 appropriations bills including those for Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD). Currently, the proposed THUD appropriations bills would exceed existing caps on federal spending, which means Congress must either raise the caps or cut spending to avoid sequestration.

APTA continues to advocate for a budget agreement that would pave the way to full-year appropriations and full funding for continuation of the FAST Act.

Stay current on the latest developments through Passenger Transport, Passenger Transport Express and Legislative Alerts at the APTA website.
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