APTA | Passenger Transport Express
January 23, 2009

News Headlines

APTA Presses Speaker Pelosi for Stimulus Funding

APTA recently urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to provide at least $12 billion for public transportation, including at least $2.5 billion for Transit Energy Assistance grants, in the forthcoming economic recovery bill. In a letter, APTA President William W. Millar noted the surging ridership of the past year, combined with shortfall-associated service cuts at many public transit systems.

The House Appropriations Committee in its markup of the bill kept funding at $9 billion for public transit. In addition, the bill now gives recipients of Capital Assistance Grants (5307 and 5311) and fixed guideway program funds 180 days, rather than 120 days, to use 50 percent of economic recovery funding. After that, unspent funding could be diverted to other recipients. Moreover, the amendment now clarifies that funds must simply be “obligated”  rather than requiring recipients to enter into “contracts or other binding commitments,” as previously specified. The amendment was offered by Rep. John Olver (D-MA), chairman of the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill will now go to House floor, where it could be debated as early as January 28.

LaHood Confirmed by Senate as Secretary of Transportation

Former Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) was confirmed as Secretary of Transportation on January 22 by unanimous consent of the Senate. At his confirmation hearing, he defended the use of infrastructure projects -- including those directed toward public transit -- as a component of the economic recovery package. APTA President William W. Millar congratulated Secretary LaHood in a statement.

Americans Strongly Desire Public Transit, Infrastructure Improvements

Results from the 2009 Growth and Transportation Survey show that roughly 80 percent of Americans believe the forthcoming stimulus bill should fund public transit and other infrastructure projects. In addition, 89 percent agreed new projects should not only create jobs but also support the goal of reducing energy consumption. The telephone survey was conducted in early January and sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Transportation for America.

$2.5 Billion in Grants for Fixed-Guideway Projects Signed at Last Minute

Just before the end of the Bush Administration, the FTA signed full funding grant agreements (FFGAs) committing $2.5 billion of federal money to four rail projects around the country: $900 million for bringing Washington, DC's Metro rail to Dulles International Airport; $813 million for Seattle's University Link; $428.3 million for the Utah Transit Authority's Mid-Jordan Extension in Salt Lake City; and $308.6 million for Denver's West Corridor project.

Save the Date

The APTA TransITech Conference, February 18-20 in Toronto, will cover information technology, traveler information, and Intelligent Transportation Systems. IT professionals, CIOs, and operations staff are encouraged to attend.

In the Media

The inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20 resulted in record ridership for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), with more than 1.5 million trips system-wide, the agency reported. WMATA ran 17 consecutive hours of rush-hour service to accommodate riders.

The New York Times recently published an editorial lamenting the likely shortfall of stimulus funding for infrastructure, such as public transportation.

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