APTA | Passenger Transport Express
April 3, 2009

News Headlines

FTA Answers ARRA Questions in APTA/FTA Webinar

More than 500 persons at 156 sites throughout North America participated in a March 27 webinar on “Spending Your Economic Stimulus Funds,” co-sponsored by APTA and the Federal Transit Administration. Susan Schruth, associate administrator for program management, and other FTA employees provided an overview of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provisions and deadlines, addressing specific concerns and questions.

FTA reported that it has received 47 recovery grant requests so far and has obligated four of them, accounting for $46.3 million. Most of the requests would use ARRA funding for vehicle purchases or facility rehabilitation and construction. The FTA is also surveying public transportation stakeholders regarding the FTA web site's usefulness and navigability.

Members Active With ARRA-Funded Projects, Encouraged to Follow Up With Elected Representatives

The list of public transit systems that have already put recovery funds to work continues to grow. Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, NY, will be using $15.2 million in ARRA funds for the purchase of four hybrid buses.  In Lakewood, WA, Pierce Transit has received funding for three projects, totaling $11.4 million. In addition, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia has begun the bidding process for 27 projects. And in the Atlanta region, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority has submitted nearly $8.7 million of ARRA-funded projects to the state government for review.

APTA is encouraging its members to use the upcoming congressional recess to inform their representatives of their ARRA-funded projects and unmet funding needs. It's also an opportune time to remind elected officials to support funding for public transportation in the climate change bill, the FY 2010 appropriations bill, and other bills under consideration.

Senate, House Pass FY 2010 Budget Bills, Consider Other Bills Potentially Affecting Public Transit

This week the House of Representatives and the Senate each passed its own FY 2010 budget resolution. Both versions contain approximately $3.5 trillion and roughly follow the broad outline set forth earlier in the year by the Office of Management and Budget. The bills will next go to a conference committee so that a compromise version can be sent to each chamber for a vote.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering a new climate change bill that proposes a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill, which will be formally introduced by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), would cut emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 85 percent by 2050.  Chairman Waxman wants the see the bill emerge from committee by mid-May and then brought to the floor of the House of Representatives later that month.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will begin development of a new climate bill as well in the coming months, with Senate floor debate possibly scheduled for this summer.

House Committee Debates Future of High Speed Rail

Also in the House, the Appropriations Committee's Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittee held a hearing on the future of high-speed rail, intercity passenger rail, and Amtrak. The consensus was that to build high speed rail, a much more substantial investment than the $8 billion and $5 billion proposed would be needed. Both Chairman John Olver (D-MA) and Ranking Member Tom Latham (R-IA) are concerned it might be difficult to obtain the full level of federal funding required. Testifying were Jolene M. Molitoris, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation; Matt Rose, CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad; Susan Fleming, director of physical infrastructure issues for the Government Accountability Office; and Joseph Boardman, president and CEO of Amtrak.

Member Resources

APTA's 2009 Rail Rodeo will feature a Rail Customer Service Challenge, open to all APTA member transit system rail station attendants and rail employees with face-to-face interaction with passengers, including ticket agents, station agents, and commuter rail conductors.

Today APTA launches its new public service announcement (PSA) campaign, "Go Green. Go Public." The campaign features humorous TV, radio, and print ads encouraging young adults to help the environment by using public transportation. The ads are customizable for local use and are a great tool for Earth Day outreach.

Save the Date

Register now for APTA's 2009 Bus and Paratransit Conference and Bus Roadeo, North America's largest and most comprehensive learning experience for bus and paratransit professionals. The conference includes dozens of sessions with the latest information, as well as technical tours providing a behind-the-scenes look at King County Metro Transit.

In the Media

USA Today this week discussed how budgetary challenges facing public transit are stressing their ability to provide paratransit service.

NBC's Today Show offered several tips for saving money in difficult economic timesincluding using public transportation.

Transportation Secretary LaHood has suggested ARRA may bring more jobs than originally predicted, according to the Associated Press.

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