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May 27, 2011
Senate EPW Leaders Move Forward on Authorization Bill

In a joint statement with the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and in a subsequent press conference this week, Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced a general framework and goals for the committee’s work on crafting the pending surface transportation authorization bill. Boxer and her colleagues, who oversee federal highway programs, have suggested funding levels based largely on Fiscal Year 2010 levels with inflationary adjustments going forward. However, they indicated that decisions over whether to proceed on a six year authorization bill, or a shorter two year bill, will be dependent upon decisions in Congress on raising additional revenues for the programs.

DOT Secretary LaHood Announces Availability of $7.6 Billion for Transit; Includes Formula and Discretionary Funds

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced the availability of $7.6 billion in annual funding for states, local communities and public transit agencies nationwide. This includes the annual FY 2011 formula funds as well as $2.73 billion available for discretionary programs, including New Starts, Bus and Bus Facilities, and Transit Investments in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction programs.

DHS Grants Announced; House Appropriators Approve DHS Bill

On May 19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced guidelines for applying for transit security grants for FY 2011 that increases the emphasis on security operations and creates a new priority for funding security at key critical infrastructure assets.  Further information on DHS's preparedness grant programs is also available from FEMA.

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that made a 54 percent cut to a preparedness grants account that includes the Transit Security Grant Program for FY 2012.  The bill did not provide specific amounts for individual programs, like transit security, as in past years, leaving those decisions up to DHS.  A bipartisan amendment to restore funding for FY2011 levels failed on a largely party line vote.

Rogoff, Millar Testify Before Senate Committee on Transportation Policy

Last week, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff and APTA President William Millar testified before the Senate Banking Committee on an array of public transportation issues. Rogoff echoed DOT Secretary Ray LaHood's recent push to expand operating assistance for public transit agencies. He also talked about the new program to provide funding for the state of good repair of transit systems -- and he specifically cited the backlog of $78 billion in maintenance costs.

Millar emphasized that "enactment of a well funded, six-year, multimodal surface transportation bill is one of the most important things Congress can do to create jobs, provide access to jobs, and ensure that the nation's infrastructure can service a healthy, growing economy and a rapidly expanding population."

Rising Gas Prices Move Vacationers to Public Transportation

According to APTA's Green Travel Forecast, the association’s annual travel survey released May 23, 54 percent of summer vacationers heading to urban destinations will use the local public transportation system to get around during their stay. In addition, 65 percent say public transportation played a role in their destination choice.

The high costs of gas, parking, car rentals and cabs make taking public transit the easy choice,” said APTA President William Millar. “When you take a bus, train or subway, you not only save money, but you also don’t have to worry about navigating the roads of an unfamiliar city.”

Successful Bus Conference in Memphis Concludes

APTA's 2011 Bus and Paratransit Conference and International Roadeo in Memphis concluded May 25 -- another successful conference! There were more than 500 attendees, 109 booths in the Bus Products and Services Showcase, and 16 buses on display.

There were also Bus Roadeo and Bus Safety award winners, as well as the Customer Service Challenge winner!  The winners include:

2011 Bus Roadeo
Overall combined score
1st place (Grand Champion): King County Metro, Seattle, WA
2nd place: VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX
3rd place: Los Angeles Metro, Los Angeles, CA

Maintenance Team
1st: VIA Metropolitan Transit
2nd: King County Metro
3rd: Fort Worth Transit Authority, Fort Worth, TX

Operator, 35-Foot Bus

  • 1st: Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Corpus Christi, TX
  • 2nd: Jefferson Transit Authority, Port Townsend, WA
  • 3rd: Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX

Operator, 40-Foot Bus

  • 1st: LYNX. Orlando, FL
  • 2nd: New Orleans Regional Transit Authority/Veolia, New Orleans, LA
  • 3rd: King County Metro

Customer Service Challenge: Missoula Urban Transportation District, Missoula, MT

2011 Bus Safety Awards
Gold Awards

  • Fewer than four million annual passenger trips: for safety, SouthWest Transit, Eden Prairie, MN
  • More than four million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips: for safety, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, Des Moines, IA; for security, Pierce Transit, Lakewood, WA
  • More than 20 million annual trips: for safety, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, and for security, MTA New York City Transit.
  • Forsythe Transportation (Arlington Transit) in Arlington, VA, was honored for best overall safety performance among private contractors providing transit management services to public transportation systems.

In addition to such speakers as keynoter Deputy DOT Administrator Therese McMillan and motivational speaker Matthew May, there were general sessions and specialized workshop sessions, plus the second annual Walk and Roll. 

The conference was also the topic of DOT Secretary LaHood's May 24 posting in his blog, The Fast Lane. "With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon in many areas, I’m sure we all agree it’s more important than ever to provide affordable, reliable transportation choices in our communities. And, in many parts of the country, that commitment begins with bus service."

Look for the next issue of Passenger Transport for extended conference coverage.  


It's right around the corner!  And it's not too late to register!  What are we talking about?  APTA's Rail Conference, to be held this year in Boston, June 12-15. 

With gas prices continuing to rise ... now is the time to Dump the Pump!  So talk to your systems and businesses, and encourage them to leave their cars at home on June 16, take public transit -- and make a contribution to our environment!


For a comprehensive look at how some Americans are reacting to the ever-rising price of gas and others are examining how they use less fossil fuels, check out "Pumped Up: Are Americans Addicted To Oil?" -- an NPR commentary.

Is the monorail the future train of public transportation?  The Wall Street Journal examines just this question.

A new Gallup poll has found that Americans would most likely look for vehicles that provide better gas mileage if gas prices keep rising.  The second most likely step would be to take public transportation! 

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