Biden, LaHood: New Grants Mean 100% of ARRA Public Transit Funds Now Invested
Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced 191 new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) public transportation projects in 42 states and Puerto Rico. The new projects mean that DOT has now awarded 100 percent of the grants available under ARRA.
Biden said: "Investing in these transit upgrades not only puts construction workers on the job at project sites, but supports American manufacturing jobs all the way down the supply chain.” LaHood added: "Because of transit projects being built with money from the Recovery Act, thousands of people can pay their mortgages or their rent, make their car payments, put food on the table for their families, and maintain their quality of life."
Authorization Extended Through March 28
The Senate on March 2 passed a 30-day extension of surface transportation authorization, which the president signed the same day. The bill ended the two-day furlough affecting some DOT employees and extends transportation programs through March 28.
H.R. 4691 also temporarily extends unemployment insurance, COBRA health insurance, and other programs.
Jobs Bill Still Under Consideration; Would Extend Authorization to End of Year
The House of Representatives on March 4 passed its own amendment to the latest version of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, the jobs bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The bill, which in its current form would extend surface transportation authorization through December 31, is expected to return to the Senate for a final vote in the coming weeks, prior to March 28.
The HIRE Act also contains provisions to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund by allowing the fund to collect interest, restoring $19.5 billion of uncollected past interest, and paying for fuel tax exemptions from the General Fund.
LaHood, Oberstar, Other Leaders to Speak at APTA Legislative Conference
A growing roster of leaders from the administration and Congress have announced their participation in the APTA Legislative Conference March 14-16 in Washington, DC. Confirmed thus far are Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff; FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo; House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN); T&I Committee Ranking Member John Mica (R-FL); T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR);
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), member of the House Select Committee on Ways and Means; and Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH), member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Save the Date
The preliminary program for the 2010 APTA Bus and Paratransit Conference, May 2-5 in Cleveland, OH, is now available on the APTA web site.
In the Media
The New York Times described the efforts of Amman, Jordan, to improve its livability by adding sidewalks to its streets and, in a separate feature, reported on the status of a forthcoming documentary about the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to be produced by the A&E Network.
A reporter from The Christian Science Monitor recounted the joy that an employee of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority gives to riders through a simple act of kindness.
"Blueprint America," a PBS series on infrastructure, included a segment on the way public transportation and the economic development it brings may soon play an instrumental role in the renaissance of Detroit.
Just for Fun
Winners of 'Public Transportation at the Movies' Contest Chosen
With the Academy Awards on March 7, APTA wanted to recall how much Hollywood likes public transportation. To paraphrase a past Oscar winner, it really, really likes us. So thank you to all of those who submitted their favorite public transit movie scenes for the inaugural "Public Transportation at the Movies" Contest.
After long consideration of the many thoughtful entries, APTA has chosen the top three submissions. Each will receive a free 2010 APTA Calendar. The voting was close.
Winning first prize is a public transit movie scene, submitted by Timothy O'Brien, account manager at Strategic Mapping in Toronto, from Batman Begins (2005). The scene entails Bruce Wayne recalling a boyhood conversation with his father, public transportation magnate Thomas Wayne, who tells young Bruce: "Your great-grandfather built the first trains in Gotham. The city's been good to our family--it was time to give something back."
In second place: the final scene from The Graduate (1967), submitted by Mark De Anda, public relations officer at San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. In this scene, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross), still in her wedding gown, forego the Alfa Romeo to take a bus as their means of escape.
De Anda explained: "This scene drives home the point that public transit is there when you need it, and can get you anywhere you need to go—even if it’s out of a questionable relationship."
Taking third place is Carne Tremula (1997), a Spanish film submitted by David Lee, general manager of Connecticut Transit.
The film, starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, begins with a baby being born late at night on a city bus. Lee recounts: "The birth receives wide publicity in the local press, so in the next scene the transit system general manager visits the new mother and baby in the hospital in order to present them with lifetime bus passes," said Lee. "The movie fast-forwards from the hospital scene to the little baby now grown up as a young man. He’s still got
his bus pass and rides incessantly, much to the displeasure of the local bus drivers."
Congratulations to our winners! And thanks to all who entered.