The $38 billion in spending cuts that the House of Representatives and Senate negotiated late last Friday, April 8, to fund government operations through the remainder of FY 2011 are spread over various programs, including public transportation and high-speed and intercity passenger rail.
As Passenger Transport went to press, the Senate had just passed the FY 2011 legislation. The measure, which the House passed earlier in the day, now goes to President Obama for his signature. Congress recesses for two weeks today.
Under the agreement, transit formula programs remain at FY 2010 levels of $8.34 billion. Funding for Capital Investment Grants (New Starts) is reduced by $400 million in FY 2011, for a total investment of $1.6 billion. The legislation also rescinds $280 million from FY 2010 New Starts funds. The budget deal eliminates FY 2011 funding for the high-speed rail program. The program was funded at $2.5 billion in FY 2010, but the bill also rescinds $400
million from FY 2010 funds.
Under Department of Homeland Security appropriations, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Grant Program is reduced to $250 million, a $50 million cut from FY 2010.
In a statement released April 12, APTA President William Millar said APTA and its members have "strong concerns" about the reductions in public transportation and high-speed rail investment.
"Singling out the high-speed rail program by eliminating all FY 2011 dollars," he added, "is simply short-sighted. This is particularly troublesome when 32 states and the District of Columbia are advancing projects with FY 2010 dollars. High-speed and intercity passenger rail investment is a catalyst to create jobs and provide the foundation for our nation's growing economy."
Reductions in public transportation investment for new projects could not come at a worse time, said Millar, as Americans are facing the rising cost of gasoline. "Now is the time we should be expanding our investment in public transportation infrastructure, not reducing it," he said.
For more details, see APTA's Legislative Alert.