March 23, 2018
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President Signs $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill; Significant Increase for Public Transportation Included

Today, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, which includes significant increases for public transportation.

APTA commended Congress for its action in passing legislation that increases FTA program funding to $13.5 billion, well above the $12.3 billion authorized level, and also includes major increases in FRA commuter and intercity passenger rail programs.

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said in a release, “The bill reflects the importance that Congress places on the value of public transportation, for the contribution it makes to mobility and for the role such investment plays in the vibrancy and economic prosperity of communities nationwide. In passing this bill, Congress has preserved the strong federal partnership with states and communities that is required to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure. It will help create jobs, connect communities and grow our economy.”

Click here to read APTA's Legislative Update on the omnibus.

Based on an initial analysis of the agreement, the measure would provide the following:

Highway Trust Fund programs fully funded out of the Mass Transit Account (MTA) at $9.733 billion, plus an additional $834 million in general fund support for a few programs normally funded from the MTA. Last year’s bill total for these programs was $9.733 billion. This year’s proposal includes:

* $9.733 billion for ­programs funded from the MTA, plus,
* $400 million in General Funds (GF) for bus & bus facilities, including
— $209.1 million for formula grants
— $161.45 million for competitive grants
— $29.45 million for no- or low-emission grants
* $400 million in GF for state of good repair grants
* $30 million in GF for high density state apportionments
* $2 million for bus testing facilities by institutions of higher education
* $2 million for the bus testing facility

The Capital Investment Grants program saw an uptick in funding as well as directive language to ensure the future of the program, which was funded at $2.4 billion last year. This year’s proposal is:
* $2.65 billion in available money for the program, of which $2.25 billion must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2019:
— $1.51 billion for New Starts
— $715.7 million for Core Capacity
— $401 million for Small Starts

Amtrak received $1.94 billion in funding this year as opposed to $1.495 billion last year, with $650 million for Northeast Corridor grants and $1.29 billion for National Network grants.

Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Grants (CRISI) are proposed at $592.5 million as opposed to $68 million last year:

* $250 million of CRISI is for PTC projects and available to commuter railroads (unlike last year when no funds for commuter railroads or PTC was set aside under CRISI for PTC).

Rail Restoration and Enhancement is $20 million as opposed to $5 million last year; Rail Federal-State partnership for State of Good Repair is proposed at $250 million vs. $25 million last year.

TIGER grants are set at $1.5 billion, and language explicitly mentions public transportation as one of the intended recipients. The grants were $500 million last year.

The compromise does not specifically fund the Gateway tunnel between New York and New Jersey, a project President Trump has opposed and one that was a priority for lawmakers from the northeast. But, according to sources, it would increase funding to other programs that could then use that money for the Gateway tunnel, including Amtrak and other federal accounts.
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