Passenger Transport Express - 07/14/2017 (Plain Text Version)
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THUD Bill Moves in the House
On Tuesday, July 11, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies approved the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill for FY 2018.
The bill provides a total of $11.752 billion in FY 2018 for programs administered by FTA. Within the total, the bill fully funds FAST Act formula programs supported by the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and $150 million authorized separately for WMATA. It also includes $111 million for FTA administration and $5 million for FTA technical assistance. The measure also includes separate funding for FRA programs, including $500 million under the Federal State Partnerships for State of Good Repair Grants, which is intended for the Gateway Hudson River Project. The House bill does not include funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program that was funded at $500 million in FY 2017.
Within the total for FTA, the bill sets funding for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program at $1.753 billion, $549 million below the amount authorized in the FAST Act. APTA expressed concern in a statement and letters to Congress about the fact that the CIG program was funded below the authorized level. Of the total provided, the measure sets specific funding levels for new starts, small starts and core capacity projects, and it also sets aside $400 million for a joint public transportation and intercity passenger rail project intended to go to the Gateway Project. The bill does include language addressing a problem that APTA members have identified, directing DOT to include a New Starts report with the president’s FY 2019 budget that includes project allocations and directing the DOT secretary to administer the CIG program in accordance with current law.
To see the APTA statement, which includes a link to the letter to the House leadership, click here.
The full House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Monday, July 17.The Senate Subcommittee on THUD and Related Agencies is tentatively scheduled to take up its version of the FY 2018 funding bill next week, with potential action by the full Senate Appropriations Committee soon after.
APTA has also sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, which can be viewed here.
See APTA's Legislative Alert on the appropriations bill here.
Chao Addresses Senate THUD Subcommittee
DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao testified on the president’s proposed FY 2018 transportation budget at a July 13 hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies.
Regarding the FY 2018 budget proposal to discontinue funding for new CIG projects, Chao said the program “supports projects that have primarily local direct benefits” and “the administration is re-examining programs where significant federal resources are spent on activities that have primarily local benefits—including what fiscal and other tools might be the most appropriate to encourage investment in those jurisdictions.” She noted that the budget honors funding commitments to projects with existing Full Funding Grant Agreements.
She said the TIGER grant program is no longer necessary because, “with the passage of the FAST Act and the creation of a new competitive grant program, the department has other opportunities for funding those projects that have nationally or regionally significant characteristics.”
Chao noted that federal investments would be targeted at what she called “the most transformative projects” and state, localities and tribes would be encouraged to take their own actions to improve their infrastructure. Chao also noted the role of the private sector in leveraging federal and state infrastructure investments.
To see the full text of Chao’s testimony, click here. [return to top]
FTA Announces $226.5 Million in Transit Bus Grants
FTA is accepting applications through Aug. 25 for approximately $226.5 million in competitive grants for replacement and rehabilitation of buses and related facilities through the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program.
According to DOT’s most recent Conditions & Performance Report, public transit providers nationwide face a maintenance backlog of nearly $90 billion, including 10,000 buses estimated to be in poor or marginal condition. Designated recipients, states or local governmental entities that operate fixed route bus service and Indian tribes are eligible for the funds, with a minimum of 10 percent ($22.6 million) allocated for rural bus needs. Apply here.
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EPW Committee Hears Testimony on TIFIA
In testimony at a July 12 hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Anne Mayer, executive director, Riverside County (CA) Transportation Commission (RCTC), called on the committee to “maintain mode neutrality for the TIFIA [Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act] program.”
RCTC, the funding agency for the county’s public transit agencies, received TIFIA grants for two highway projects.
“Projects applying for TIFIA assistance should be judged on their financial feasibility, repayment capability and their ability to move forward once financing is approved,” Mayer testified, “not be selected based upon any arbitrary desire to advance one transportation mode or outcome over another.”
EPW Committee Chair John Barrasso (R-WY) said at the hearing, “Leveraging public funding to maximize private investment is a tool the administration strongly supports,” although he noted that “Solutions to address and pay for fixing our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges are not ‘one-size-fits-all.’ … I believe that, working together in a bipartisan way, this committee can find transportation solutions that work for both rural and urban America.”
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SAVE THE DATE
Sustainability & Multimodal Planning Workshop
Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis
Risk Management Seminar
The US Grant, San Diego
Annual Meeting & EXPO
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta
Register here. [return to top]
IN THE MEDIA
How Much, From Where? The Trump administration hasn’t backtracked from its DOT-cutting proposal in the “skinny budget,” and some say serious cuts could be coming. One issue is how public transit projects are funded. Read more in this Fortune magazine article.
All About the Options: This MarketWatch article (originally from the Wall Street Journal) reports on efforts by public transit agencies to replicate some of the on-demand features of ride-sharing companies.
Form Follows Function: Public transit hubs must accommodate multiple uses and users so they can fulfill their goals of being “social centers and expressions of civic identity that can boost or damage local pride,” says this blog post from Atlantic Media’s CityLab.
I Get Around: As summer vacations replace work and school, the best way to sightsee is on foot or by taking public transportation, says this blog writer who took a 10-day, three-city road trip from San Francisco to Portland using public transit. [return to top]
NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE
"There are some 54 CIG projects in the FTA ratings process, all of which address transportation needs in communities that have already made significant state and local funding investments. ... These projects alone add up to $38 billion in new investment, and account for 800,000 jobs and $90 billion in economic output nationally."
APTA Letter to the House THUD Appropriations Subcommittee [return to top]