September 13, 2010
Classifieds in this issue include executive and managerial positions with transit agencies and vendors throughout North America!
Obama Calls for Long-Term Public Transit Investment
President Barack Obama called on Congress to enact a long-term transportation authorization bill “that expands and reforms our infrastructure investments and returns the transportation trust fund to solvency” in a Labor Day address Sept. 6 in Milwaukee.
In addition, he proposed an up-front investment of $50 billion that will include funding for improvements to existing transit systems, significant new dedicated funding for New Starts, and continuing support for high-speed rail.
APTA sent a letter to Obama on Sept. 8 commending his remarks and emphasizing the economic importance of investing in public transportation infrastructure.
Elements of the six-year plan include:
• Establishing an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs;
• Integrating high-speed rail on an equal footing into the surface transportation program to ensure a sustained and effective commitment to a national high speed rail system over the next generation;
• Streamlining, modernizing, and prioritizing surface transportation investments, consolidating more than 100 different programs and focusing on using performance measurement and “race-to-the-top” style competitive pressures to drive investment toward better policy outcomes; and
• Expanding investments in areas like safety, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and livability—helping to build communities where people have choices about how to travel, including options that reduce oil consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and expand access to job opportunities and affordable housing.
“I commend the president’s vision of a world-class infrastructure system and his call to enact a new, six-year transit and highway authorization bill that … commits to building on the previously announced investments in high-speed and intercity passenger rail,” said APTA President William Millar. “The proposed up-front investment of $50 billion will jump start job creation and is a good first step toward addressing our country’s high unemployment,” he added.
Obama announced “a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America’s roads and rails and runways for the long term. I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world. We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We can have it again. We are going to make it happen.”
Obama said the program, which includes installation and maintenance of 4,000 miles of railway—enough to go coast to coast—will provide “investments in tomorrow that are creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs right now.” It builds upon federal investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) while also reforming “the way America currently invests in transportation, changing our focus to enhancing competition, innovation, performance, and real analysis that gets taxpayers the best bang for the buck while moving away from the earmarks and formula debates of the past.”
"I am very pleased that the president wants to build on the success of [ARRA] with further investment in our national transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“I am also pleased that the president shares the committee’s objectives of restoring our surface and air transportation systems to a state of good repair, increasing energy efficiency, and relieving the road and rail congestion that is crippling our economy. The principles outlined by the president are consistent with those put forward by the committee in the Blueprint for Investment and Reform and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act.”
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called ARRA a vehicle for “paving the way for a 21st-century economy” while “employing thousands of American workers.”
He continued: “A 21st-century economy is going to need a transportation infrastructure that can move its goods. Recovery Act investments have shown that transportation work benefits America from safety to efficiency to growth and—yes—to the jobs needed for the work we have too long deferred. That’s why President Obama and this Administration want to revamp our approach to transportation and put more people back to work on more projects that will support our economy for years to come.”
“For every $1 billion invested in U.S. public transportation, 36,000 jobs are supported and created. Also, the introduction of high-speed rail is creating a new industry of jobs for America’s workers.”