February 2, 2009
House Increases Transit Funding in Economic Recovery Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Jan. 28 in favor of the economic recovery bill. This vote was preceded by the adoption of an amendment to increase transit funding from $9 billion to $12 billion, sponsored by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Michael McMahon (D-NY). The amendment will appropriate an additional $1.5 billion for transit formula funding and $1.5 billion for the New Starts program. The bill also includes $1.1 billion for high-speed rail and intercity rail projects.
The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to require 50 percent of economic recovery funding to be obligated within 90 days instead of the 180 days proposed by the House Appropriations Committee. After debate on the amendments was completed, the House approved the full economic recovery bill by a vote of 244-188.
The Senate marked up its version of the bill on Jan. 27, and floor debate is expected to begin the week of Feb. 2.
In President Barack Obama’s first video message, he included public transportation in discussing his administration’s economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. Calling it a plan “to immediately jump-start job creation as well as long-term economic growth,” Obama said it will save or create three to four million jobs over the next few years and will invest in the country’s “most important priorities,” including energy and education; health care; and a new infrastructure “necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century.”
Obama continued: “We will rebuild and retrofit America to meet the demands of the 21st century,” which means “repairing and modernizing thousands of miles of America’s roadways and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans.”
U.S. DOT estimates that every $1 billion of stimulus investment in transportation infrastructure supports 28,000 jobs, so $12 billion in new transit funding would create more than 330,000 new jobs. APTA’s economic recovery survey has identified nearly 800 “ready-to-go” transit projects worth $15.9 billion—marking transit investment that can be spent quickly and immediately create “green” jobs—supporting the president’s plan for economic recovery.
In a statement thanking the Congressional leadership, APTA President William W. Millar said:
“On behalf of the U.S. public transportation industry, I congratulate the members of the House of Representatives on the passage of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This important legislation will invest $12 billion in public transportation projects and $1.1 billion in high-speed rail and intercity rail projects that will create and support hundreds of thousands of green American jobs.
"With public transit ridership at modern record levels, it is clear that the American people want expanded public transportation services. The public transportation industry is ready to go to create and support jobs and give better public transit services to millions of Americans. Additionally, this federal investment in public transportation will promote energy independence and reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, two other important national goals.
"I want to thank U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team, T&I Chair James Oberstar and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members, and Appropriations Chair David Obey and the members of the House Appropriations committee, for their work in making sure that public transportation funding was included at a significant amount.
"Additionally, I want to thank U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Peter DeFazio, Keith Ellison, Michael McMahon, and Daniel Lipinski for their leadership in adding an additional $3 billion in public transportation investment to the bill yesterday. Their extra effort means that more jobs and public transportation service will be available to more Americans.
"We look forward to working with the Senate on this important legislation.”