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March 4, 2011
President Signs Surface Transportation Extension into Law

On March 4, President Obama signed into law H.R. 662, the “Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011,” which provides funding for surface transportation programs funded from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for the period March 5 through Sept. 30, 2011; and extends the authority to make expenditures from the HTF for HTF-financed programs through Sept. 30, 2011.

On March 3, the Senate passed the bill; the previous day, the House passed it overwhelmingly by a 421-4 vote.

Transportation leaders in the House and Senate have indicated it is their hope that this longer extension will allow Congress sufficient time to enact a full six-year authorization bill some time later this year. For more details, see the latest Legislative Alert.

LaHood: High-Speed Rail Will Continue and Expand
Stance Follows Latest Rejection of HSR Funding

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said March 2 that the Obama administration will continue its efforts to expand passenger rail service, despite three governors having rejected funding for those projects. As noted in Governing, LaHood said: "America is ready for high-speed, intercity rail, and the fact that 35 states have accepted the money is proof of it." He added that in the last two weeks, at least six governors and senators have contacted his office to say they're moving forward with plans and would like to accept additional funding if becomes available.

In a new development today, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gov. Rick Scott, who had argued he had no obligation to accept federal funding for the state's high-speed rail project. This court decision ended plans to build a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. LaHood confirmed the money will now go to other states investing in high-speed rail.

Rising Gas Prices Result in Highest Transit Savings in Two Years

APTA's latest Transit Savings Report (released monthly) examines how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car. Gas prices increased 28 cents a gallon in the last 10 days and are expected to continue rising. As a result, people who ride public transportation save, on average, $9,904 annually, and $825 per month.  These results, based on the March 4 average national gas price and the national unreserved monthly parking rate, show the highest savings for public transit riders in two years.

"Using public transportation is the quickest way people can beat high gasoline prices,” said APTA President William Millar. 

Location Reigns! Greenest Homes Found Near Transit

The Environmental Protection Agency released a study this week that found that housing near public transportation uses less energy than homes in the suburbs, even those that are Energy Star-rated.


Concern about rising gas prices in Los Angeles, Charlotte, NC, and elsewhere may be pushing commuters toward using public transit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's Smarter Cities project has named 15 U.S. metropolitan regions leaders in transportation innovation and smart transit.

Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the transit hub at the World Trade Center that will serve PATH and 13 subway lines will resemble a bird in flight, a soaring structure with outstretched wings.


APTA's Legislative Conference is just around the corner. Don't miss out on hearing DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, administrators from FTA and FRA, political pundit Charlie Cook -- and a breakfast with special guest Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Need more information? Contact Meredith Slesinger.

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