APTA pushes to preserve federal transit funding

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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Public transit leaders joined together at the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) annual conference in Baltimore, Md., to discuss and express their concerns regarding the Trump Administration's FY18 budget proposal to phase out the Capital Improvement Grant (CIG) program.

The FY18 budget reflects a $928-million reduction in the CIG program and limits the requested $1.26 billion to projects that hold existing full funding grant agreements (FFGA). The budget says, “future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use the benefit from these localized projects.” The administration justified the reduction and phase out of the CIG program by stating that “federal resources should be focused on making targeted investments that leverage private sector investment” and noted that “localities are better equipped to scale and design infrastructure investments needed for their communities.”

APTA says cuts to the CIG program would put public transit projects and the thousands of associated direct and indirect jobs at risk in more than 50 communities. The transit association conducted a study on the cuts, the Economic Implications of Proposed Public Transit Capital Funding Cuts, which found that 800,000 jobs would be at risk and there would be a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output nationally if the proposal was to be implemented.

“I must emphasize that APTA and its 1,500 members are very concerned about the Trump Administration’s FY18 budget proposal to phase out federal investment of public transit programs that are vital to our local communities and millions of Americans,” said Doran J. Barnes, APTA chair and executive director, Foothill Transit. “The Administration’s proposed cuts to public transit impact more than 50 projects in 23 states worth $38 billion in planned projects.”

A complete list of the more than 50 CIG public transit projects in 23 states that could be at risk if they don’t have a FFGA in place us available here.

“This proposal is wholly inconsistent with the Administration’s approach to improve our nation’s infrastructure,” said Richard A. White, APTA acting president and CEO. “It is contrary to the 35-year federal partnership that was created under the Reagan Administration, which has led to a rail renaissance that has transformed our nation’s communities.”

APTA says it wants the Trump Administration and Congress to reject these cuts and reaffirm its support for these programs as part of the FY18 budget process. Additionally, APTA says it calls on Congress to include increased investments in public transportation as part of any new infrastructure initiative.

The release of the president’s budget proposal is the first step of the budgetary process. It must pass through both sides of Congress, including the appropriate subcommittees, before a final budget is solidified.

In a stroke of irony, the U.S. Department of Transportation posted a blog entry on June 12, which details 2016 data that found American drivers spend more time stuck in traffic.

The blog is written by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Associate Administrator for Operations Martin Knopp and begins, “According to new data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s FHWA, drivers are spending more time stuck in rush-hour traffic than ever. Increased congestion is outpacing system improvements gained from investments in gridlock reduction strategies, such as road widenings, better intermodal connections and traffic and demand management technologies.”

Gary Thomas, president and executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), said, “Sustainable, predictable and substantial federal funding is essential if transit agencies like DART are going to be able to continue providing effective mobility choices for our customers. Our customers and stakeholders are ready for our projects to get going so they can begin taking full advantage in their investment in mobility.”


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