Passenger Transport Express - 10/02/2009 (Plain Text Version)

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News Headlines

Congress, President Approve One-Month SAFETEA-LU Extension

The Senate on September 30 passed a one-month extension of federal public transportation and highway programs, which the president signed the same day. The extension was included in a continuing resolution that applies to fiscal year 2010 appropriations for the entire federal government; its passage averted a federal government shutdown. The House passed the continuing resolution last week.

A proposed three-month extension, which would have redirected $300 million from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) for budget scorekeeping purposes, failed to secure the required unanimous support in the Senate. It was blocked by senators who proposed using unallocated American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding in the extension period.

For more detail, see the recent APTA Legislative Update.

Boxer, Kerry Introduce Draft Climate Change Bill

On September 30, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and John Kerry (D-MA), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, introduced their proposed climate change legislation at an event in Washington, DC.

The draft bill does not yet specify investment levels, but negotiations are underway to assign funding under a cap-and-trade program.  Boxer's EPW Committee plans to hold a markup this month to assign funding levels.

The draft bill outlines the structure of potential transit and transportation investments and introduces significant new planning provisions with regard to greenhouse gas emissions; funding could be set aside for urban and rural transit formula grants, and a separate fund would support a new competitive program for all types of emission-reducing transportation investments, including public transit projects and planning activities.

APTA President William Millar on October 1 wrote Boxer and Kerry to express APTA's "strong support for your efforts to move our nation toward a vibrant clean energy economy while controlling global warming." [return to top]

Congress to Set FY 2010 Public Transit Appropriations Soon

With a one-month appropriations continuing resolution in place, both houses of Congress are preparing for conference committees to resolve differences on funding levels in fiscal year 2010 appropriations bills, including those for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Senate version of the transportation appropriations bill contains $11.07 billion for public transit programs in FY 2010—$590 billion more than the $10.48 billion in the House bill. The Senate bill includes $1.2 billion for high-speed rail, versus $4 billion in the House bill.

Within DHS appropriations, the House appropriation for public transit security funding is $250 million; the Senate version sets funding at $356 million. The 9/11 Act authorizes $900 million, which APTA is encouraging Congress to make available for optimal public transportation security. [return to top]

Biden Announces Year-End ARRA Goals

On October 1, Vice President Joe Biden announced several new ARRA goals he expects will be met by the end of 2009. They included FTA grants for the purchase of 10,000 new buses at public transit systems around the nation; Department of Energy funding for battery manufacturing plants to power 400,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles annually; DOT funds for 10,000 highway projects; $5 billion in grants and lending programs from the Small Business Administration; and goals for military hospitals, national parks, housing renovation, and renewable energy. [return to top]

More ARRA Funds Put to Work for Public Transit; Reporting Deadline Oct. 10

FTA's recent grants of ARRA funds include $8.7 million to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority in Atlanta, for the construction of park-and-ride lots; purchases including a 45-foot commuter bus, surveillance/security equipment, and station and shop equipment; as well as preventive maintenance and upgrades to maintenance facilities.

Montebello, CA, will use $4 million to buy a compressed natural gas fueling station, modify underground fuel tanks, acquire a customer information system, and make facility improvements.

Under the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction program, Delaware Transit Corporation will use $1.5 million to retrofit facilities with solar panels, which is expected to generate cost savings through fossil-fuel energy reductions.

October 10 is the deadline for third-quarter reporting for ARRA Section 1512 grantees. [return to top]

Annual Meeting Update: On-Site Registration Still Available

Pre-registration for the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting is now closed, but on-site registration will be available, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 3. [return to top]

In the Media

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's Distracted Driving Summit was discussed by many news outlets, including ABC News.

A sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press described how she saved time and money by using Stockholm’s rail system to get to sporting events.

A TV commercial highlights the economic potential of a proposed high-speed rail link between Anaheim, CA, and Las Vegas. [return to top]