February 12, 2016
Proposed Budget Is Consistent with FAST Act

President Obama's budget for Fiscal Year 2017 was released this week.  It proposes large increases in a wide variety of areas, including significant growth in public transportation and intercity passenger rail spending.  Increases in dedicated funding for an expanded Transportation Trust Fund are also included in the proposal.

Unfortunately, most of the proposed increases are almost certain to be rejected by Congress. These include additional funding for: Supplementary Transit Formula Grants, the Rapid Growth Area Bus Rapid Transit Corridor program, TIGER Grants and Passenger Rail Infrastructure Investments  —-  as well as $320 billion over 10 years to build a clean transportation system, funded through business tax reforms and a $10.25 per barrel tax on oil.

On the other hand, the budget proposes spending levels for the FAST Act that are consistent with what Congress authorized last December, including Transit Formula Grants at $9.733 billion (with $199 million for PTC implementation).

Among the most important budget items is the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, which includes New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity projects.  The president's budget would fund the CIG program at $3.5 billion in FY 2017, an increase of $1.2 billion over the FAST Act authorization.  See the next article for more information about CIG funding.

In light of the recent enactment of a five-year surface transportation law, election year politics and congressional opposition to tax hikes generally, Republican leaders have dismissed the Administration's proposed budget as unrealistic.  For more budget details, read APTA's Legislative Alert by clicking here.

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Administration Recommends $3.5 Billion to Expand Capital Investment in Transit

Although much of President Obama's FY 2017 budget proposal received a chilly response from Capitol Hill, one public transit program is welcome news to many members of Congress and our industry. 

The Administration proposes moving the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) account out of the discretionary budget and into the Transportation Trust Fund.  Under this plan, CIG funding would be increased to $3.5 billion.  According to DOT, this will allow for the construction or completion of 31 rail, bus rapid transit and streetcar projects in 18 states, including:

>   10 New Starts projects already under construction in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, Orlando, Honolulu, Boston, Charlotte and Portland;

>   7 New Starts projects not yet begun in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, National Capital Area Maryland, Minneapolis, Fort Worth and Seattle;

>   10 Small Starts projects not yet begun in Tempe, Sacramento, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Kansas City (MO), Albuquerque, Everett and Seattle; and

>   4 Core Capacity projects to improve existing transit lines in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New York City and Dallas.

In addition to these 31 projects, the Administration included 15 new public transit projects in its budget proposal for first-time funding.  These include infrastructure investments in Chicago, Sacramento and West Sacramento, and Indianapolis.

The FAST Act authorizes the CIG program at $2.3 billion in FY 2017 rather than the Administration's proposed $3.5 billion. However, the FY 2017 budget proposal is likely to help more projects enter the funding pipeline in subsequent years.

APTA Chair Addresses NARC Annual Conference

Last week, APTA continued to strengthen its already productive working relationship with the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC).  APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall delivered opening remarks at the organization's annual meeting in Washington, DC.  NARC is one of three national organizations that McCall has targeted to develop closer ties with APTA.

Also at the NARC event, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy participated in a panel discussion with Bud Wright, executive director of AASHTO, and Pete Ruane, president & CEO of ARTBA, on how the FAST Act will impact surface transportation over the next five years.


March 13-15:  Legislative Conference
Washington, DC
Receive APTA's new "Guide to the FAST Act's Transit and Rail-Related Provisions."   Register here.

April 30-May 3: Transit Board Members & Board Support Seminar
San Antonio, TX
To register, click here.


Los Angeles County Agency To Buy All-Electric Bus Fleet
The Associated Press; Feb. 11

Millennials Fuel Metro-North Ridership Surge
The Journal News (of the USA Today network); Feb. 11

Transit Day Rally Advocates Economic Growth with Public Transportation
The Herald-Tribune (Batesville, IN); Feb. 6

Steering Wheel-Free, Driverless Bus Shows the Future of Mass Transit
Fortune.com; Feb. 5


"Everything in America has increased over the last 20 years except the Highway Trust Fund.  America is one big pothole because we haven't had the money to really fix up our roads and bridges, and the way to get back to that is to raise the gas tax and replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which will attract more private dollars.

                                                                           Ray LaHood
                                                                           Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
                                                                           February 11

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