|February 20, 2009|
News HeadlinesEconomic Recovery Law Sends Funds to Public Transit, High Speed Rail
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law by President Obama on February 17 provides $8.4 billion for investments in public transportation projects and $9.3 billion for intercity passenger rail, including $8 billion for high speed rail corridors and $1.3 billion for Amtrak. Of the $8.4 billion provided for public transit, $6.9 billion will be distributed to public transit systems through sections 5307, 5311, and 5340 of the Federal Transit Administration’s formula
programs and a new $100 million program for energy consumption and greenhouse gas reduction grants. The remaining $1.5 billion will be equally distributed as grants for the New Starts/Small Starts and Fixed Guideway Modernization programs.
Also, the Transit Commuter Benefit Program limit has been raised to equal that of the parking benefit. (See article below.)
Cap Raised on Pre-Tax Public Transit Benefit
The only aspect of the new economic-recovery law to take effect immediately is the raising of the cap for pre-tax transit benefits from $120 per month to $230 — the same amount that car commuters have been allowed for pre-tax parking costs. This change accounts for $192 million of the recovery package and will expire on January 1, 2011, unless extended by the Congress.
APTA/FTA Webinar: How to Apply for Stimulus Funds
More than 700 public transportation professionals learned details of the application process for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from Federal Transit Administration representatives during a February 13 webinar, sponsored by APTA and FTA. Susan Borinsky, FTA assistant administrator for planning and environment, and Susan Schruth, FTA assistant administrator for program management, said a new web site, www.recovery.gov, will ensure transparency in the funding process by showing how ARRA funds are being used.
The speakers emphasized that 50 percent of funds in the bill — including $8.4 billion for public transit — must be obligated within 180 days of the Feb. 17 bill signing.
Transit systems should be taking steps now to identify projects to be funded with stimulus money so that when the FTA apportionment notice and program guidance are published shortly, grant applications can be filed quickly. Both the APTA web site and the FTA web site carry further information. A podcast of the audio and PowerPoint slides from the webinar are available via
the APTA web site.
FTA Withdraws Two Controversial NPRMs
The FTA announced it has withdrawn two notices of proposed rulemaking that had raised concerns among APTA members.
Save the Date
There is still time for policymakers, transit operators, manufacturers, suppliers, government relations staff, and local coalition members to sign up to attend APTA's 2009 Legislative Conference, March 8-10 in Washington, DC. This year's conference will give participants a unique opportunity to discuss funding requests for Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations to their Congressional representatives.
In the Media
The New York Times web site includes a comparison chart on recipients of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The Transport Politic blog featured an article and chart on the funding shortfalls faced by public transit systems across the nation.
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