May 24, 2010
The classifieds in this issue offer eight Help Wanted positions, including two chief executive posts!
Transit Officials Voice Concern on Climate Change Bill
BY JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications
The presidents of four of the largest national transportation-related organizations discussed their concerns about the Kerry-Lieberman climate change bill with reporters on May 19 in a conference call and vowed to keep advocating that 100 percent of transportation revenues be invested back into the transportation system, as has been the practice for the last 50 years.
APTA President William Millar said the American Power Act is a missed opportunity to fund the “green” benefits public transit brings. “We’ve shown conclusively that public transportation is part of the solution to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing emissions,” he said. “But this proposed climate and energy bill misses the opportunity to invest significantly in public transportation, which can be one of the most effective means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil.... Specifically, this climate change bill diverts 77 percent of revenues away from surface transportation during its first year.”
“Traffic congestion needlessly wastes 2.8 billion gallons of fuel per year, increasing emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America.
This bill “actually makes the problem worse” because it would renege on “the decades-long promise that transportation user fees will be dedicated to making needed highway and transit improvements,” Sandherr said. “The last thing we can afford is to take the ‘trust’ out of the Highway Trust Fund.”
Pete Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, said that the bill, as written, would undermine public trust in the funding of surface transportation. “This is nothing but a user fee paid by transportation system users, and as such it should be dedicated entirely to the maintenance of the transportation system—namely, the Highway Trust Fund,” he said. “This approach will make it much tougher to get the long-term authorization.”
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, agreed. “The proposal they’ve made would preclude action to move forward vital highway and transit authorization legislation,” said Horsley.
Millar was optimistic about persuading the senators to recraft the bill. “We don’t intend to let up! America’s roads, bridges, and transit systems are falling apart in many cases.” These problems will only worsen in the near future.
Ruane supported that sentiment: “I kind of like the odds. ... Quite frankly, [the authors of the bill] need our support to get this done.”