Passenger Transport Express - 02/01/2019 (Plain Text Version)

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Following Government Shutdown, APTA Urges FTA Assistance

FTA Moves Quickly on Reimbursements

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas and FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams spoke this week to discuss the impacts on public transportation of the partial government shutdown. The conversation was followed by a letter to Williams from Skoutelas and APTA Chair David M. Stackrow, Sr. urging FTA assistance to ameliorate the impacts of the shutdown on public transportation agencies and the riders they serve:

  • Process all pending requests for reimbursement for public transportation agencies, beginning with requests for reimbursement of operating expenses or identified hardships;
  • Approve all pending requests for operating assistance and capital project approvals, including requests for Letters of No Prejudice;
  • Complete the certification of State Safety Oversight programs of the four pending applications currently under review by FTA;
  • Issue Fiscal Year 2019 apportionments for FTA programs as soon as possible and before the Continuing Resolution expires on Feb. 15; and
  • Take all other possible actions to help public transportation agencies restore operations and make critical infrastructure upgrades.

Read the letter here.

Following the reopening of the government, FTA has moved quickly to process more than $500 million in pending reimbursement requests. “I am pleased to report that this week, FTA processed more than 1,400 grantee payment requests through its ECHO [Electronic Clearing House Operation] financial system totaling $531 million, on the first day the government reopened for business,” said Williams. “Our staff worked extraordinarily fast to submit those funding requests for payment to the U.S. Department of Treasury in order to get our transit agency partners paid the very same week. An additional $200 million in reimbursement payment requests have been received by FTA since the government reopened, which have also been processed and sent to Treasury for payment.”

“Expediting these critical grant payments is a welcome relief to many public transit agencies across the country,” said Skoutelas following announcement of the payments. “On behalf of all our members, APTA thanks FTA and applauds Acting Administrator Williams for making this issue a priority.”

FTA urges APTA members to submit all electronic grant payment requests through ECHO for reimbursement for all previously approved grants by Feb. 11 to prepare against a further possible government shutdown. FTA reports that it will not be issuing an apportionment notice prior to Feb. 15 but plans to do so soon after it receives additional appropriated funds in the way of a CR or full-year funding.

Highway Trust Fund Could Be Insolvent by 2022

According to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the transit account within the Highway Trust Fund is predicted to be exhausted by 2021, with the Highway Trust Fund itself becoming insolvent a year later. The report states that: “The FAST Act extended the taxes that are credited to the trust fund through 2022. In CBO’s baseline, which reflects the assumption that those expiring taxes are extended beyond that date and that obligations from the fund increase at the rate of inflation, the transit account becomes exhausted in 2021, whereas the highway account is able to meet all obligations through 2021 but becomes exhausted in 2022.” Read the entire report here. [return to top]

Apply for Funding to Broaden Bus Transit Automation Research Findings

FTA, with the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida, is accepting applications for transit bus automation strategic partnerships. Up to $500,000 in federal funding will be awarded to eligible agencies and organizations to supplement transit bus automation research and to help disseminate research findings to the broader transit community. FTA’s Strategic Transit Automation Research (STAR) Plan outlines FTA’s five-year research agenda for transit bus automation, which includes partnerships with organizations conducting automation research. Applications are due March 1. Learn more and apply here. [return to top]

TRB Webinar on Contracting Commuter Rail Services

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) will hold a free 90-minute webinar featuring research from Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Research Report 200: Contracting Commuter Rail Services, Volume 2: Commuter Rail System Profiles, Feb. 12 beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time. This webinar, sponsored by TCRP, will provide an introduction to the guidebook in Volume 1 and an overview of the commuter rail systems in North America profiled in Volume 2. Read more and register here. [return to top]


Mark your calendars and plan to attend APTA's Transit CEOs Seminar:

Transit CEOs Seminar
April 13-15
Chicago, IL
APTA’s 2019 Transit CEOs seminar offers unparalleled opportunities for CEOs to exchange ideas and experiences with peers. Come and share insights and challenges, discuss your agency’s advances and learn more about using APTA and your agency’s resources to improve operations, funding, financing, customer services and more. Public transit agency CEOs and deputy CEOs are welcome to attend.
 [return to top]


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