APTA | Passenger Transport Express
November 21, 2008

News Headlines

Transportation Transition Team Named
President-elect Barack Obama’s transition office announced the persons who will oversee the transportation aspect of the upcoming transition.  Named to lead the US DOT changeover are: * Mortimer Downey, who served as deputy secretary of DOT for eight years under President Clinton and was an assistant secretary of DOT during the Carter administration. * Jane Garvey, former administrator of the FAA under Clinton and prior to that deputy and, later, acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. * Michael Huerta, who held various senior DOT positions under Clinton, including associate deputy secretary of transportation and chief of staff to former DOT Secretary Rodney E. Slater.

Congress Weighs Aid for Transportation Infrastructure in Stimulus Bill
Congress convened this week for a brief “lame duck” session.  On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled a new stimulus bill containing $2.5 billion of new transit investment, a rescue package for domestic auto makers and an extension of federal unemployment benefits.  After deciding that the bill would not receive the 60 votes necessary for it to proceed, in large part because of limited support for aid to the domestic auto industry, Reid scaled back the proposal to include only the unemployment benefit.  The limited bill was then passed by the Senate on Thursday. Congress could still return in December to continue development of a new stimulus bill, and President-elect Obama has signaled his intent to support a new stimulus package, but a new bill may not be introduced until January.

U.S. Public Transit Agencies Continue Efforts to Resolve Leasing Crisis
General managers and other officials from 11 public transit agencies gathered in Washington this week to ask Congress for help as their long-term financing agreements with investors face collapse – yet another result of the global credit crisis.  “Time is not our friend,” said APTA Chair Beverly Scott, general manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. The agreements, which were encouraged by the federal government, face technical default as a result of the downgrade of the insurers’ credit ratings.  In attendance were representatives from public transit agencies in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Jose, and Washington, DC. For more information about this situation, see the Dec. 1 issue of Passenger Transport.

Sen. Clinton Speaks Before New York Public Transit Association
Speaking to the New York Public Transit Association last week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) called for “bigger and bolder” transportation programs, including high-speed rail, and noted that modernizing the nation’s transportation infrastructure and expanding transit will be key issues both for the next Congress and President-elect Obama’s incoming administration.  “Just as we built a 19th century transportation system with canals and railroads and we built a 20th century transportation system with highways, we can now build a 21st century transportation system with mass transit,” she said.

Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant Resigns
Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant resigned Nov. 14 after serving two years heading Amtrak.  Amtrak Chief Operating Officer William Crosbie will succeed him on an interim basis until Amtrak’s board selects a new president, likely after the presidential inauguration.

Save The Date

APTA’s 2009 Transit CEOs Seminar will be held Jan. 24-27 in Santa Monica, CA.   Keynote speaker is Jim Austin, MPA/MURP, director of executive education at Decision Strategies International, Inc.  Another featured speaker will be Stephen Van Beek, Ph.D., president/CEO of Eno Transportation Foundation, who will provide a macro political and strategic view leading to authorization of the surface transportation legislation.

In The Media

The Washington Post Nov. 16 editorial called for an increase in the gasoline tax.

Crain’s Detroit Business discussed bills passed by the Detroit House of Representatives to create transit revitalization investment zones and build light rail.

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