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May 13, 2011
Obama, LaHood Visit Allison Transmission: Porcari Visits American Seating

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, in his Fastlane blog, recounts his and President Obama's recent visit to Allison Transmission in Indianapolis where he said the company is solving two problems -- high gas prices and the need for new jobs in our recovering economy.   

Obama told employees that, "If we are serious about meeting our energy challenge . . .  we are going to have to . . . make our cars, trucks, and buses more energy-efficient, because if we use less oil, that reduces demand; that brings the price down; and you will see the impact at the pump.  That's what's going to make a difference and that's why what you are doing here is so important."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari talked at a press conference about the importance of public transportation and spoke about the economic need for companies such as the American Seating Co., in Grand Rapids, MI, which are supplying "green-collar" jobs.   


Administration Awards $2 Billion in High-Speed and Intercity Rail Grants

The Obama administration on May 9 announced the reallocation of $2 billion in grants for high-speed  and intercity rail, including $795 million for upgrades that would allow for speeds of 160 miles per hour in parts of the Northeast Corridor.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the money available to other states this year when Florida Gov. Rick Scott chose not to accept funds that had been allocated to build high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando. 


Rep. Blumenauer Unveils Legislation Allowing Employers to Give $200 Per Month Commuting Benefits

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), left--shown with Rep. James Moran (D-VA)--unveiled legislation May 11 that would permanently increase the monthly pre-tax transit commuter benefit to $200 per month, and equalize it with the parking benefit. Currently, the parking and commuter transit benefits stand at $230 per month. However, the transit benefit may revert to $120 when the current transit benefit law expires on January 1, 2012. Under Blumenauer's proposal, both the parking and public transit commute benefits would be permanently equal. The legislation would also require employers who offer free parking subsidies to make the same benefit available to employees who choose to take transit, ride bikes or take some other way to get to work. The legislation is designed to increase incentives for people to choose alternative modes of transportation to get to work, in light of the recent spike in gas prices. The event was held at the Capitol South Metro Station in Washington, DC, and attended by biking, walking, and public transit supporters.

Radio, Television Ads Spotlight Presidents Reagan and Clinton

APTA and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) have launched a radio and television campaign featuring statements from the late President Ronald Reagan and President Bill Clinton on how public transportation ensures that America is safe and thriving.  As the congressional debate about the federal budget and future investment priorities continues, both associations are calling on Congress to pass a well-funded, multi-year public transportation and highway bill this year.  In signing the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, President Reagan said, "the state of our transportation system affects our commerce, our economy and our future. . .Common sense tells us that it will cost a lot less to keep the system we have in good repair than to let it disintegrate and have to start over from scratch. . .Clearly this program is an investment in tomorrow that we must make today."

Riders of Public Transit Save More Than $850 Per Month

People who ride public transportation, on average, save up to $10,230  annually and $853 per month according to APTA's Transit Savings Report  which bases these savings on the May 10, 2011, average national gas price ($3.95 per gallon-reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. 

Since last month, gas prices rose another 14 cents, allowing public transit riders to save an additional $10 this month. Gas prices have risen nearly $1 since the beginning of 2011 making annual transit saving $115 higher this month compared to last. As more and more Americans look for ways to save money at the pump, the choice to switch to public transportation is an easy decision.  

Also, many car drivers will be ditching their cars and Dumping the Pump on June 16 as part of APTA's 6th Annual National "Dump the Pump" Day.  APTA has prepared a toolkit  for members with suggested activities, fact sheets, a press release and proclamation.  



APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference & International Bus Roadeo to Proceed on Schedule in Memphis

All things are go for APTA's Bus & Paratransit Conference & International Bus Roadeo in Memphis!  While there was some flooding, it was isolated to low-lying neighborhoods, and no new serious flooding is expected.  City leaders report that Memphis' world-famous musical landmarks, hotels, convention center, and restaurants are all open, safe, and ready to welcome APTA attendees.


APTA's Rail Conference will be held in Boston, MA, June 12-15.  A new ‘value capture session’ has been added on capital investments involving a blend of public and private sector resources and better disclosure of the economic value of creating livable communities.  A second session was created on the policies for Smartcards vs. open-payment systems.  Both sessions are on Wednesday, June 15. Additionally, in the wake of  recent international events, there is an even stronger interest in transit security matters and APTA will hold several sessions at the conference that will focus on related issues.   


CNN Money ran a story on how the rise of gas prices is driving double-digit growth in ridership at several public transit systems across the country.  The spike is being attributed to people going back to work after the recession, and a steady rise in gas prices that's taxing the budgets of many drivers.  "Transit can be one of the quickest ways to avoid those high costs," said APTA President  William Millar.

TriMet is honoring three generations of women who make their living behind the wheels of its buses. 

Japanese researchers rolled into the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Shanghai with a scale model of a robotic plane-train that levitates on a cushion of air.  

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