APTA | Passenger Transport Express

December 19, 2008

News Headlines

Oberstar Economic Recovery Proposal Boosts Transit and Rail Projects

In a conference call yesterday, Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, outlined his proposal for $85 billion in infrastructure investment as part of the overall economic recovery legislation. The proposal includes $12 billion for public transit projects, $5 billion for rail (Amtrak, high-speed, inter-city passenger, and short-line) and $30.25 billion for highway projects, with the remainder for other infrastructure projects that are under the purview of that committee. It is expected that a full economic recovery package will be considered by the 111th Congress when it convenes in early January, with the hope that final legislation can be signed by the president shortly after his inauguration.

Rep. Ray LaHood Tapped as Secretary of Transportation

President-elect Barack Obama has selected Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) to be the new Secretary of Transportation. LaHood, who served on the House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which identifies itself as a "centrist" group in the party. Last summer, he announced his plans to retire from Congress at the end of his term, in January, whereupon one perspective on LaHood noted his bipartisan popularity. APTA President William Millar has congratulated LaHood and looks forward to working with him and his team in the new administration.

APTA Letters to Obama, Pelosi, Reid Reinforce Public Transit's Role in Economy

APTA President William W. Millar has sent letters to President-elect Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), urging them to make public transportation a major component of the forthcoming economic stimulus package.

FTA Releases Partial FY 2009 Apportionments

The Federal Transit Administration released its partial-year FY 2009 apportionments, allocations, and program information on December 18. In September, Congress passed a continuing resolution that will fund public transportation at FY 08 levels until March 6, 2009. Consequently, under the apportionment, the FTA will distribute $4.1 billion -- approximately 43 percent of the projected total for FY 09.  Full year apportionments will not be available until Congress enacts a subsequent appropriations bill for the remainder of FY 09. The notice provides detailed information on funding amounts currently available for transit programs and provides program guidance and requirements, as well as tables that show unobligated funding from certain discretionary programs that will be available for obligation during FY 09.  The partial-year apportionments do not include funds for specific local projects.

Paul Weyrich, Friend of Public Transit, Dies at 66

Paul Weyrich, a conservative icon and supporter of public transportation, died December 18 at age 66. Weyrich partnered with APTA on many reports written from a conservative point of view. In 1999, Weyrich and coauthor William Lind argued for public transit in their report Does Public Transit Work? A Conservative Reappraisal: "Quality transit works, and we can see that it works when we measure it correctly, by the yardstick of transit competitive trips." He was also publisher of the New Electric Railway Journal and served on the Amtrak board of directors.

Weyrich was most recently the chair and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation. He was also a co-founder and the first president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and co-founder of the Moral Majority.

Peters, Lawmakers Request Proposals for High-Speed Corridors

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and other officials on December 15 publicly invited proposals from private industry for the design and construction of high-speed rail in the 11 high-speed corridors named in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, signed into law in October. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 30, 2009. The group of officials, comprising Rep. John Mica (R-FL), ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE); Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (D-NY); and Peters made public statements at New York's Penn Station.

Nominations Sought

Nominations are now being accepted for the spring 2009 TCRP International Transit Studies Program mission on Performance Measurement and Outcomes. The mission will focus on quality control procedures used to achieve organizational goals and enhance quality of service at public transport agencies in Southeast Asia. The mission will take place March 19 to April 3, 2009. For more information, e-mail khh@tcrpstudymissions.com.

In the Media

The New York Times reported that even though the population of that city grew between 2003 and 2007, its vehicle traffic didn't -- thanks to public transportation.

The Washington City Paper discussed WMATA's plan to do away with paper bus transfers -- largely because of assaults on drivers. In Los Angeles, the MTA is doing likewise and will phase out nearly all paper passes, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The incoming president and vice-president and their families will ride a train (possibly Amtrak or a specially arranged "inauguration special") to Washington for the Jan. 20 inauguration, the Associated Press reports.

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