|July 10, 2009|
New TTI Report Shows Increased Congestion Relief Brought by Public Transportation
The 2009 Urban Mobility Report, from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University finds that public transportation saved 646 million hours of travel delay in 2007. The report’s analysis of the 2007 data also shows that without public transportation, both congestion costs and time wasted due to congestion would have been 16 percent higher.
News HeadlinesDOT Proposes $20 Billion General Fund Transfer to Highway Trust Fund--$2 Billion for Public Transit
The U.S. Department of Transportation has presented to Congressional committees an outline of what it seeks to accomplish in its previously proposed 18-month extension of SAFETEA-LU. The proposal calls for a General Fund transfer of $20 billion to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) -- $2 billion to the transit account and $18 billion to the highway account -- over the extension period. This would enable continuation of the current level of federal transportation funding and would prevent reimbursement delays for transportation projects. The Department of Transportation has previously warned that without such a transfer, the HTF will reach a balance of zero by late August or September this year. The transfer would maintain solvency through March 31, 2011, according to the proposal.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), has opposed any extension. The committee has issued its own outline for an authorization bill and is advocating its passage before the expiration of SAFETEA-LU on September 30.
GAO Report Recommends Reforms to DHS Transit Security Grant Program
A July 8 report from the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to Congress recommended reforms to the Transit Security Grant Program so that public transit agencies can more easily receive grant funding in a timely manner and have the flexibility to make the most of their safety and security resources. According to the report, only 3 percent of the $755 million allocated in 2006-2009 to help public
transit systems protect against terrorism had been spent as of February 2009.
Senate Considers Public Transitís Climate Benefits
Several public transportation experts testified at a July 7 hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee dedicated to exploring public transportation’s ability to help reduce global warming. “For every metric ton of carbon an MTA service emits, the MTA helps avoid more than 8.24 metric tons of greenhouse gases,” said Ernest Tollerson, director of policy and media relations for New York state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. MTA in 2008 had a
net carbon reduction of nearly 20 million metric tons, he said. "That’s the equivalent of the carbon stored annually by a healthy forest of 7.7 million acres,” Tollerson noted.
Transportation Nominations Reviewed by Senate
The Senate this week considered several nominations to positions that affect public transportation. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing July 8 on the nominations of Deborah Hersman to be chair of the National Transportation Safety Board and of Polly Trottenberg to be assistant secretary of transportation for transportation policy. On July 9 the Senate received the nomination of Christopher Bertram to be assistant secretary of transportation for
budget and programs and chief financial officer (CFO) at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
ARRA Projects Continue to Improve Public Transit Infrastructure
APTA members continue to use ARRA funds to upgrade their capital infrastructure. The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority will use $8.5 million to buy 25 new buses, 11 paratransit vehicles, six support vehicles, and a bus stop/boarding announcement system and conduct preventive maintenance. El Metro Transit in Laredo, TX, is using $4.8 million to purchase 14 replacement buses and one maintenance vehicle. In Lindenwold, NJ, $10.5 million will help Port Authority Transit Corporation replace
aging wooden poles with a combination of new, more durable fiberglass poles and an underground duct-bank and manhole system; install new power communications, and signaling cables; and renovate the 40-year-old lighting system at the City Hall Station in Camden.
Save the Date
APTA’s upcoming Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, is the premier event of the industry and a must-attend for all public transportation professionals. The July 20 issue of Passenger Transport will feature an in-depth look at the many unique attractions Orlando has to offer.
In the Media
The New York Times featured an article discussing how bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in developing countries might play a large role in addressing climate change.
The urbanism blog Infrastructurist has published a U.S. map showing a selection of streetcar projects around the nation.
A short film on Streetfilms.com discusses the need for more capacity on bus routes crossing the Hudson River into Manhattan and notes that congestion would be 84 percent worse without bus service.
Actor and associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison Kalpen Modi, also known as Kal Penn of the “Harold and Kumar” films, reports taking the bus to his new job, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
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