November 20, 2015
Congress Extends Current Authorization Through Dec. 4

This week, Congress approved another short-term extension — this one through Dec. 4 — of the surface transportation authorization in order to give House and Senate conferees more time to reach agreement on a new long-term public transit and highways bill.  The current stop-gap authorization was due to expire at midnight on Nov. 20 and Congress is in recess all of next week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) said, "The House and Senate are making good progress in resolving differences between their respective multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposals," but the conference committee needs additional time "to meet in public, complete negotiations and produce a final measure that helps improve America's infrastructure."  Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) agreed, calling the 14-day extension "prudent."

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APTA Fights for More Transit Funding

With only two weeks remaining before Congress's self-imposed Dec. 4 deadline to send a long-term surface transportation authorization to the president, all eyes are on the House and Senate lawmakers responsible for crafting the final bill.

APTA has been actively monitoring the deliberations and meeting with congressional staff in an effort to secure the best possible bill and funding levels.  For example, this week APTA and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association urged the House-Senate conferees to invest more in public transit by consolidating the six years of funding into a five-year authorization, reallocating the sixth year of resources among the FTA’s categorical programs. 

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall sent a message to APTA members urging the industry to advocate with a unified voice.  APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy wrote two letters to all House and Senate conferees, one letter outlining the list of APTA's priorities for the final bill and a second letter explaining the rationale for five years of higher funding.

APTA also continued its advocacy efforts with the following initiatives:

Grassroots Activism:

>  Voices for Public Transit (VPT) advocates sent more than 11,400 letters to Congress.
>  More than 1,000 supportive telephone calls were made to House members' offices.
>  VPT gained more advocates, pushing the total over 179,000.

Media Outreach:

>  APTA collaborated with 73 mayors via social media to push for increased funding.
>  Key Atlanta and Chicago newspapers printed letters by APTA business members Pat Scully and Kim Green.

Targeted Advertising:

>  APTA radio commercials are continuing to run during peak drive time in the Washington, DC, area.
>  APTA sponsored ads in four Capitol Hill newspapers, signed by 190 business members.  See ad here.
>  APTA and ARTBA ran an ad urging Congress to pass a five-year bill with higher funding levels.  See ad here.

Additionally, we disseminated a video urging APTA members to encourage their riders and social media followers to ask Congress to pass a well-funded transportation bill.  View the video here.  All of these efforts, including more online advertising, will continue until a final bill reaches the president's desk.

Public Transit Systems Step Up Security Across U.S.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, public transportation agencies throughout the United States have increased security measures.  While the most recent ISIS videos mentioned Washington, DC, and New York City, all major transit systems in larger cities are evaluating areas where security can be strengthened. 

Many transportation agencies are reviewing their security procedures and policies even though no specific public transportation system has been threatened.  Both the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority have expanded random screening of passengers and packages, added more uniformed officers and K9 teams, increased patrols and inspections, and enhanced coordination with federal agencies.  Similar precautions are being implemented in other large urban centers.

TSA has issued a Security Awareness Message asking transit agencies to intensify their "see something / say something" campaigns to raise awareness among employees and the public.  Next week's Passenger Transport will have more developments on the issue of security.

Three New Public Transit CEOs Are Selected

During the past week, three new CEOs were selected to lead public transportation agencies:

Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim has been named president of New York City Transit, a division of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  Hakim, who assumes her new role on Dec. 28, is executive director of New Jersey Transit Corporation and served as executive vice president / general counsel at MTA Capital Construction.

Peter M. Rogoff has been selected to become CEO of Sound Transit (officially the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority), a regional bus, commuter rail and light rail transit system serving the Greater Seattle area.  Rogoff is expected to start his new job in January 2016.  He is currently undersecretary of transportation at U.S. DOT and a former FTA administrator.

Paul J. Wiedefeld has been appointed general manager & CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, effective Nov. 30.  Wiedefeld served as CEO of the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport from 2002 to 2005 and again from 2009 to 2015.  He led the Maryland Transit Administration between those periods.


APTA's 2016 Transit Board Members & Board Support Seminar is April 30 - May 3.

This professional development event in San Antonio, TX, will focus on best practices in board governance. 

Please note: The 2016 seminar is being held next spring rather than in midsummer as was the case in previous years.  Make your travel plans early.  For more information on the program and to register, click here.


DART Has Something Many Other Cities Want: A Hybrid Streetcar
KERA News; Nov. 11

America’s Top Transit Systems Face a $102 Billion Repair Backlog
The Atlantic CITYLAB; Nov. 12

Paris Attacks Put U.S. Transit, Transportation Systems on Alert
The Washington Post; Nov. 16 


"... I'm hopeful to get higher levels of spending on an annual basis [for the surface transportation bill]. And if funds are so limited that we have to reduce the term of the bill, it's an option I think should be looked at."

                                                                                          Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member
                                                                                          House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

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