January 6, 2017
DOT Transition Update: Chao Provides Insight for Priorities

Elaine Chao, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for DOT secretary, said her top three priorities are to exercise good stewardship, expedite repair and construction while decreasing regulatory burdens and strive for equity among geographic areas and different modes.

Chao reiterated these priorities in the questionnaire she completed for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, which will vote on her nomination.

“A top priority for DOT is to maintain a culture of good stewardship on behalf of the American people,” Chao stated. “This means effective enforcement of safety measures; getting the most benefit from the department’s expenditures, including strengthening its planning and acquisition practices; and preparing for the future by considering new technologies in our infrastructure.” See the complete questionnaire here.

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled Chao's confirmation hearing for Jan. 11.

» Denver's Regional Transportation District seeks a chief operations officer/deputy general manager. [More]
» New Jersey Transit Corporation is looking for a chief compliance officer. [More]
» The city of Norwalk, CA, requests proposals for provision of renewable natural gas. [More]
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115th Congress Convenes; Infrastructure Work to Begin in Second 100 Days

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has announced that work on President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal will probably not begin until after his first 100 days in office. Press reports have suggested that Congress will consider healthcare issues, regulation changes and tax overhauls before taking up infrastructure concerns.

As quoted by The Hill newspaper, Shuster said, “We’re going to start to work on it, but first of all, you’ve got to figure out the pay-fors, which will come, I believe, in the first 100 days. Then in the next second 100 days is when we’ll put together a big infrastructure package.”

Politico Pro quoted Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as saying, "If you ask anyone in the leadership of the Commerce Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee—and I'm on both—I would say no, we're not stepping away. I mean that is one of the things we both need desperately and can agree on."

NYC Transit Opens First New Subway Line in More than 50 Years

MTA New York City Transit opened its first major subway expansion in more than half a century on New Year’s Day: the Second Avenue Line, with stations at 96th Street, 86th Street and 72nd Street and a connection to the existing Lexington/63rd Street Station.

The 1.8-mile stretch of new track is expected to ease overcrowded conditions on the nearby Lexington Line.

New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Prendergast said, “[New York State] Gov. [Andrew M.] Cuomo challenged the MTA to work aggressively to open the Second Avenue Subway on time and we have been working around the clock to meet this challenge. We’re thrilled to start the new year with a new subway line.” Prendergast, an MTA employee for more than 25 years who has served in the post since 2013, announced his retirement following the launch of service.

Read more about the new Second Avenue Line in the Jan. 16 issue of Passenger Transport.

DOT 'Landing Team' Members

The transition organization has announced several new members of the DOT “leading team” making recommendations for leading the agency.

In addition to retired policy analyst Shirley Ybarra, who Passenger Transport previously announced, the team members follow:

Nancy Butler, AECOM (retired); Karen Czarnecki, Mercatus Center, George Mason University; Bo Denysyk, Global USA Inc.; Daniel Elwell, Elwell & Associates LLC; T. Finch Fulton, VOX Global; Marcus Lemon, Polsinelli PC; and Brigham McCown, Kilgore McCown, PLLC. All are serving in a volunteer capacity. Find other details here.

Foxx Exit Memo: Nation's Transportation System at 'Crossroads'

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx issued his Cabinet Exit Memo on Jan. 5, an 11-page document that recounts the department’s key accomplishments as his tenure concludes and a new secretary and administration prepare to take office.

“My goal was to set this department on a course for the next 50 years that more fully recognizes the role transportation decisions play in economic opportunity for underserved communities, appreciates the role that technology can play in making our transportation future much safer and embraces innovation even when it disrupts traditional ways of thinking,” Foxx stated.

The memo (available here) notes Foxx’s assessment of the department’s progress in such areas as funding, sustainability, safety, infrastructure investment, technology and strengthening opportunities for economic growth.

Update: APTA Comments on FTA Proposed Regs

After review by multiple committees, APTA submitted comments Jan. 6 emphasizing the land use benefits of public transportation projects, among other issues, in response to FTA’s proposed tools to help public transit agencies comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. Specifically, FTA proposed a draft Programmatic Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transit Projects and an accompanying Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator Tool.

In addition, APTA is finalizing comments to an update of DOT’s NEPA implementing procedures, last updated in 1985. Find details on APTA’s website.

In related news, FTA Chief Counsel Ellen Partridge recently issued a letter clarifying that internet protocol (IP) security cameras qualify for a Buy America waiver under existing rules. The Security Industry Association, in consultation with APTA members, committees and staff, successfully sought the clarification. Find the letter here.

FTA Webinar on Zero Emission Research Opportunity

FTA will review its Zero Emissions Research Opportunity (ZERO) at an hour-long webinar Monday, Jan, 9, at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

Space is limited to 100 participants; advance registration is not required.

FTA is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations through Feb. 21 for funding to conduct research, demonstrations, testing and evaluation of zero emission and related technology for public transportation applications.

To participate in the free webinar, click here. Information about ZERO is available here.


All public transit CEOs and deputy CEOs can benefit from participating in APTA's 2017 Transit CEOs Seminar, Feb. 11-14 in San Diego. This unique leadership forum provides numerous opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues and learn from other industry leaders. Register here.


Invest Now; Gain Later: Read past the headline for this informative analysis of the relationship between strengthening infrastructure and bolstering economic competiveness.

Reason for Optimism: Public transit’s big win at the ballot box and President-elect Trump’s support for infrastructure investment point to a brighter 2017, say APTA Acting President & CEO Dick White and other industry leaders.

Transit’s Next Big City: This video spotlights Seattle as “America’s Next Top Transit City,” tying its economic future to its robust public transit network.

Less Cars, Not Car-Less: This opinion piece encourages federal lawmakers to support “a national system of high-quality, high-speed rail transit linking every major and medium-sized city in America.”

Job #1: Former LA Mayor and former LA Metro board member Antonio Villaraigosa calls on the new administration to create “a national surface transportation agenda” that addresses funding, workforce development and other key policy areas.


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