APTA | Passenger Transport Express
July 24, 2009

News Headlines

House Committee Passes Increased Appropriations for Public Transportation

The House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Committee, chaired by Rep. John Olver (D-MA), on July 23 passed its markup of the THUD appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010. For public transportation, the bill includes $8.34 billion in formula grants, $1.8 billion for New Starts, and $4 billion for high-speed rail. Total appropriations for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are $10.33 billion, plus an additional $150 million to fund a separate authorization for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up its version of the bill next week.

Senate Committees Pass Authorization Extension

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), both passed an 18-month extension of SAFETEA-LU on July 23. Dodd said of the Public Transportation Programs Extension Act, “Although this is an 18 month extension ... I am not ready to concede that we cannot get a bill next year.” Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) added, “What we really need is to do the real deal. What we need is certainty, and I would hope we would act before the deadline.”

Also in the Senate, the Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), has proposed to transfer $4.8 billion from the General Fund to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund.

Washington Forum Focuses on Green Benefits of Public Transit

An APTA-sponsored July 22 forum in Washington, D.C., focused on public transportation’s crucial role in addressing climate change. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) were panelists at the CQ Forum on Climate Change Policy and Transportation, along with Kevin Desmond, general manager of Seattle's King County Metro Transit. APTA President William Millar in his welcoming address noted that public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon annually, as well as 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline. “If we were to make a substantial increase in public transportation, then public transportation could be more available to more people … and we would save even more,” Millar said. Also on the panel were Jannine Benner, legislative director for Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and others.

Public Transportation Systems Busy Using ARRA Grants

As the FTA continues to administer American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants, public transit agencies across the nation are putting those funds to work in their communities. For example, the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission District in Stockton, CA, will use its $3 million in ARRA funds for maintenance and repairs to the Altamont Commuter Express rail system; the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in St. Petersburg, FL, received $15.1 million, which will go toward the purchase of 14 hybrid replacement buses and bus communication devices such as Automated Vehicle Locators with annunciators and real-time passenger information, as well as bus stop improvements; the $1 million grant to Link Transit in Wenatchee, WA, will finance the replacement of numerous vehicles in its fleet, including nine minivans for paratransit operations; and the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District in Santa Cruz, CA, will purchase 27 new paratransit vans, fareboxes, and software with its $5 million ARRA grant.

APTA Officers, Board Nominations Deadline Is Monday

This Monday, July 27, is the deadline to submit nomination forms for APTA officers and Board of Directors members.

One additional Executive Committee position has opened. Loren “Ben” Herr, Executive Director of the Texas Transit Association, has accepted the position of Regional Transportation Director for the Alamo Area Council of Governments. Although Herr will remain in the public transit arena, he noted that he will no longer be eligible to serve as APTA’s vice chair for state affairs.

Questions regarding the elections should be addressed to Jim LaRusch at 202-496-4808 or jlarusch@apta.com.

Dump the Pump Video Contest Deadline Extended; Promotion Tools Now Online

Tools to help public transit systems promote the Dump the Pump Video Contest to riders are available on the APTA website, along with instructions on submitting videos through YouTube.com.

In addition, the deadline for entries has been extended to September 18.

The contest is open to the public, and submitted videos will be judged on creativity, content, and overall impact. The grand prize winner will receive free rides for a year on his or her local transit system. APTA will provide each winner with a free transit pass.

Save the Date

The 2009 APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando will feature for the first time a Products and Services Showcase. APTA members are eligible for numerous travel discounts, including reduced airfare and train fare and discounts on Orlando attractions.

In the Media

Former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis discussed his support for public transportation in an interview with Infrastructurist.

A writer for Philadelphia Business Today marveled at high-speed rail in Europe and pondered its future in the United States.

The Seattle Times featured a guide to Sound Transit’s new light rail line, which opened last weekend.

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