Passenger Transport Express - 04/02/2010 (Plain Text Version)

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News Headlines

Survey: Public Transportation Systems In Funding Crisis Due to Recession

More than 80 percent of public transit systems are being forced to raise fares or cut services due to widespread declines in state and local revenues, according to a new APTA report.

Impacts of the Recession on Public Transportation Agencies shows that since January 1, 2009, 84 percent of public transit systems have raised fares or cut service or are considering doing either. Of those, 59 percent of systems have already cut service or raised fares.

For more details and an analysis of the survey results, see the April 12 issue of Passenger Transport.

APTA, Partner Organizations Urge for Transportation Funding in Climate Change Bill

APTA joined with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and other partner organizations in a letter urging Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to include critical transportation investments in the forthcoming climate change legislation being drafted by the senators.

The letter emphasizes the importance of retaining the principle of investing revenues collected through motor fuel fees into the transportation system. Such investment is critical to the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and to the passage of a long-term authorization bill. "Enacting a new transportation bill quickly will be very difficult, if not impossible, should Congress approve legislation that diverts revenue from carbon-based fees from motor fuels away from the transportation investment," the letter states. [return to top]

FRA to Award $50 Million in Rail Safety Technology Program Grants

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will soon make $50 million in public safety grants available to passenger and freight rail carriers, railroad suppliers, and state and local governments through its new Railroad Safety Technology Program.

Entities must have received FRA approval of their Technology Implementation Plans and Positive Train Control Implementation Plans or show that  they are developing those plans.

Applications may be submitted beginning April 8 and are due by July 1. FRA will select awardees on or around September 3. For details, consult the Notice of Funding Availability in the Federal Register. [return to top]

$115 Million in High-Speed Rail Design, Construction Grants Available from FRA

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it has begun accepting applications for $115 million in planning and construction, and final design/construction project funds for high-speed intercity passenger rail. Applications and proposals for these funds must be submitted to FRA by May 19. FRA will announce the awardees this summer.

“We are excited to move forward the president's vision on high-speed rail and are working quickly to get funding in the hands of states,” Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a statement. [return to top]

DOT to Make Texting Ban for Interstate Bus Drivers Permanent

U.S. DOT intends to make permanent its recent ban on text messaging while driving for all bus drivers who drive across state lines using a commercial driver's license, as well as all interstate commercial truck drivers. The Notice of Proposed Rule Making will open a 30-day public comment period.

"We're not trying to do anything here but save lives," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in his FastLane blog. DOT issued its interpretation of current law--which imposes a temporary ban on texting during commercial driving--in January  2010. [return to top]

Save the Date

Register Now for the 2010 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference

Be sure to participate in the many unique learning and networking opportunities at the 2010 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Cleveland, OH, May 2-5. This year's closing session, "Dealing With the Downturn," will present ways for transit systems to promote public understanding of service cuts, fare increases, and other measures made necessary by flat and reduced funding. [return to top]

In the Media

The major funding challenges being faced by public transportation systems, as described in the latest APTA survey report, were discussed in front-page articles in USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

USA Today featured a story on U.S. public transportation systems' increased security following the March 29 terrorist attack on the Moscow subway and the budget strains this increased vigilance brings.

ABC affiliate WTVD in Raleigh, NC, reported that a healthy majority of voters surveyed were in favor of paying higher sales taxes in order to fund public transit in their region.

A carbon fiber body, 16 gullwing doors, 800 horsepower, and zero emissions? No, it's not the new Batmobile, or Bill Gates' riding mower; it's a "Superbus" prototype public transit bus developed by students in the Netherlands, reports technology blog Gizmag. (But does it have traffic signal priority?) [return to top]