October 23, 2015
House Transportation Committee Approves New Long-Term Authorization

Congress took a major step this week toward enacting a new long-term surface transportation authorization bill, the first in more than 10 years.

By an overwhelming bipartisan voice vote, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee on Oct. 22 approved the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015.  The bill would authorize federal public transit and highway programs for six years with generally modest or cost-of-living increases.  Among the STRR Act provisions are:

>   A new bus discretionary program, funded at $90 million in FY 2016 and $200 million annually thereafter;

>   $32 million increase in FY 2016 for the state of good repair program with modest annual increases; and

>   A three-year extension of the PTC deadline.

Prior to the Committee vote, APTA sent a letter to the House T&I Committee expressing general support for the bill, but voicing concerns over the modest funding levels, increased domestic content requirements under the Buy America rules, and new language that limits the percentage and flexibility of the federal match for new starts projects.  The letter can be viewed here.

The STRR Act does not include a method to fund the bill, which makes the timing for full House approval uncertain.  Some members want the House Ways and Means Committee to pass legislation that would pay for the STRR Act before it goes to the House floor for a vote.  Others, including many in the Senate, want the House to pass the STRR Act quickly and solve the funding issue later.

A more detailed analysis of the STRR Act as approved by the House T&I Committee is available here.

» The Ventura County Transportation Commission is looking for a public transit director. [More]
» The Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) has an opening for a director of finance. [More] 
» The Metropolitan Council (Minneapolis/St. Paul) is requesting proposals for 27 low floor light rail vehicles, with an option to purchase up to 50 additional vehicles. [More] 
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APTA, Rail Leaders Brief Media on PTC

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy led a media briefing on Oct. 19 to emphasize the urgency of extending the Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation deadline for three years.  More than 30 reporters participated in the session representing major media outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, NPR, ABC News, CNBC and Politico.

Melaniphy said, “PTC is about interoperability.  We are all very committed to pushing this forward as quickly as we can, but we have to get this right."

Joining Melaniphy was Ed Hamberger, CEO, Association of American Railroads, who cited an American Chemistry Council prediction that a nationwide railroad shutdown would result in 700,000 lost jobs and a 2.6 percent decline in GDP.

In addition, APTA members from the East, Midwest and West Coast spoke at the briefing:

-   Doug Allen, CEO, Virginia Railway Express;
-   Donald Orseno, executive director & CEO, Metropolitan Rail Corporation (Metra) in Chicago, IL; and
-   Brian Schmidt, director, operations, planning & programming, Altamont Commuter Express in California.

If Congress does not extend the Dec. 31 deadline and rail service is suspended, Orseno said 29 more lanes of expressway would be needed to accommodate the 300,000 daily passenger trips on Metra.  Allen and Schmidt explained that their systems operate on tracks owned by other agencies unable to complete PTC installation by the deadline.

In July, the Senate included an extension until Dec. 31, 2018 in its surface transportation authorization bill.  The House T&I Committee approved similar language in its STRR Act on Oct. 22 with strong bipartisan support.  While Democrats and Republicans in both chambers agree on the need for a three-year extension, the timing for final passage remains uncertain.

APTA Has a New Address!

Effective Oct. 26, APTA's offices will move to a new location in downtown Washington, DC.  Our telephone number (202-496-4800) and email address (www.apta.com) remain the same, but our new mailing address is:

                                                                  1300 I Street, NW
                                                                  Suite 1200 East
                                                                  Washington, DC  20005

We look forward to seeing APTA members, visitors and guests at our new location.


APTA's Transit CEOs Seminar is Jan. 30 - Feb. 2, 2016

This high-level seminar is designed for transit CEOs as well as senior-level professionals who are on a career path to become a chief executive.  The venue for the event is Lake Buena Vista, FL.

In addition to seminar participants, APTA is seeking transit executives who wish to make presentations, particularly during the CEOs Xchange session.  If you have an initiative to showcase, please email the topic to Lynne Morsen at lmorsen@apta.com.  To view the program and to register, please click here


How AT&T Is Using Drivers’ Cellular Data to Help Fix California Traffic
Fortune; Oct. 16

How the Decline of Cars Is Changing Cities for the Better
Huffington Post; Oct. 16

Reinventing Infrastructure: How Hard Is It?
NPR; Oct. 20


"The legislative process is a journey ... and this one is far from over.  Our efforts on behalf of our members and riders will continue every day … until we have a new authorization bill on the President’s desk … and we win a PTC extension."

                                                                                                          Michael P. Melaniphy
                                                                                                          APTA President & CEO

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