Passenger Transport Express - 04/22/2016 (Plain Text Version)

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Senate Appropriations Approves FY 2017 Spending Bill

The full Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a $56.5 billion bill on Thursday, April 21 to fund transportation, housing and urban development projects for FY 2017.  The committee said the bill "prioritizes funding for transportation projects and programs to encourage economic growth." 

Transportation Highlights:  $16.9 billion in discretionary funding for U.S. DOT, $1.7 billion below FY 2016 and $2.5 billion below the Administration's request.  The bill provides increased funding for Capital Investment Grants and Amtrak, but rejects the Administration's request to shift certain programs from discretionary to mandatory spending.

Transit Programs:  $12.3 billion, an increase of $575 million over FY 2016.  The appropriated amounts largely follow the funding levels outlined in the FAST Act and include:

-  $9.7 billion in transit formula grants (consistent with the FAST Act and $753 million above FY 2016);
-  $2.3 billion in Capital Investment Grants (New Starts) for all current Full Funding Grant Agreement projects;
-  Within New Starts, $333 million for core capacity projects, $241 million for small starts, and $20 million for expedited delivery pilot projects, all of which provide competitive grant funding for major transit capital investments planned and operated by local communities, including heavy rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and commuter rail.

Also included is $150 million for WMATA, which was approved by Congress separately from the FAST Act.

Rail Programs:  $1.7 billion for FRA programs, $76 million above FY 2016.  However, three new grant programs (Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement; Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair; and Rail Restoration and Enhancement) received lower levels of funding than were authorized under the FAST Act.  Total spending includes:

-  $1.4 billion for Amtrak ($30 million above FY 2016);
-  $334 million for rail safety and research programs ($46 million above FY 2016);
-  $50 million for newly-authorized Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Grants;
-  $20 million for new Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grants;
-  $15 million for new Rail Restoration and Enhancement Grants.

Other Programs:
-  $525 million for TIGER Grants ($25 million above FY 2016);
-  $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for the Federal Highways Program, consistent with the FAST Act;
-  $6.6 million for "emerging technologies" to develop autonomous vehicles "with proven safety benefits" and to strengthen cybersecurity defenses in those technologies.

At this time, House action on a similar spending bill is unclear.  The budget is stalled in the House, which means any work on FY 2017 appropriations bills is likely to be delayed until mid-May.

Seven Transit Agencies Win DOT Grants

FTA has awarded $22.5 million in grants to seven public transportation agencies in five states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve operating efficiency. The grants are being made under the agency's Low and No-Emissions Vehicle Deployment Program (known as "Low-No"), which provides funds to purchase environmentally-friendly buses and support related facilities that use battery-electric, fuel cell and other "clean" technologies.

The seven Low-No grant recipients — all APTA members — are: Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (Oakland, CA); Foothill Transit (West Covina, CA); King County Metro Transit (Seattle, WA); Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia, PA); Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (Canton, OH); and Utah Transit Authority.

The Low-No program was established under MAP-21 and reauthorized in the FAST Act.  FTA is accepting applications through May 13 for the next round of funding grants.  More information is available at [return to top]

Funds Available To Improve Access To Public Transit

FTA has announced that $20.5 million is available in competitive grants to help communities improve access to public transportation.  The funds are being provided through the agency's Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning Pilot Program. 

The TOD grants are designed to help communities plan development that encourages greater public transit use and extends the benefits of new transit lines to a larger geographical area.  To be eligible, the planning work must be associated with a transit project for which the local community recently received funding — or intends to seek funding — through FTA's Capital Investment Grant Program.  Applications are being accepted through June 13.

FTA is hosting a webinar to explain this funding opportunity on Thursday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time at this link:

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Monthly Savings Report Released

APTA released its monthly Transit Savings Report for April, showing that a person can save $9,312 annually —- or $776 per month — by using public transit for daily commutes rather than a private car.  The report shows how a two-person household can save a significant amount of money by having one less car and using public transportation.

It also ranks the 20 cities with the highest public transportation ridership in order of savings based on monthly transit passes.  The top five cities for savings are: New York, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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May 15-18:  Bus & Paratransit Conference
Westin Hotel & Charlotte Convention Center - Charlotte, NC
To register for the Bus Conference, click here.
Information about the International Bus Roadeo can be viewed here.

June 19-22:  Rail Conference
Sheraton Grand Phoenix - Phoenix, AZ
To register for the Rail Conference, click here.
Information about the International Rail Rodeo can be viewed here.

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California Mass Transit Cracks Down on "Seat Hogs"
Reuters, April 20

Expanding Public Transportation in Washtenaw County (MI)
WEMU Eastern Michigan Univ.; April 20

Elon Musk Wants To Fix Public Transportation
Huffington Post Tech; April 21

Officials Approve $700K Study on Public Transportation on Future Toll Lanes
WSOCTV (Charlotte, NC); April 21

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In recognition of Earth Day 2016:

"APTA's Sustainability Commitment program demonstrates that the public transportation industry is a green industry incorporating green, sustainable practices.  These practices not only reduce an organization’s environmental impact, but are good for business."

                                                                                Valarie J. McCall
                                                                                APTA Chair
                                                                                Board Member, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

“Environmentally-friendly technologies are increasingly being implemented at public transit systems and businesses.  The focus on sustainable practices extends beyond environmentally-friendly buses and includes other practices such as LEED certified buildings, solar arrays and water reclamation.”

                                                                                 Michael Melaniphy
                                                                                 APTA President & CEO

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