Passenger Transport Express - 09/26/2008 (Plain Text Version)

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WASHINGTON NEWS

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION INCLUDED IN CONGRESSIONAL STIMULUS PLANS

Today, both the House and Senate unveiled legislation that would provide immediate funding for public transportation infrastructure to help stimulate the economy and provide operating assistance to transit agencies to cope with high fuel prices and ridership demand.  The House bill - “Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008” (H.R. 7110) -- provides $3.6 billion for immediate capital investment, and $1 billion for operating expenses to help transit agencies increase service, reduce fares, or avoid fare increases or service reductions due to the high fuel costs. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill late today.

The Senate measure would provide $2 billion for “ready-to-go” capital transit projects or to pay for operating expenses to continue current service or expand service to meet demand.  This bill was defeated on the Senate floor today as a stand-alone measure in a procedural vote, but could be added to an appropriations continuing resolution this weekend.  Both proposals would distribute funds through the existing urbanized area and rural area formula grant programs. 

APTA urges members to contact their representatives and ask them to support the inclusion of capital and operating investments for public transportation in the economic stimulus package.

 

Millar Speaks on Transit and Climate Issues Before House Ways and Means Committee

The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), held a hearing September 18 on the importance of public transportation in reducing greenhouse gases.  Among the many speakers was APTA President William W. Millar—marking the first time anyone from APTA has testified before this gathering.  He noted that if a two-adult, two-car household gave up one car for commuting and used public transit instead, it will produce a greater savings than the combined effort of that household installing compact fluorescent lights, weatherizing their home, and replacing their old refrigerator with a new Energy Star appliance. That same household, said Millar, could realize a savings of up to 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. “Revenue from the auction of emissions allowances under a ‘cap-and-trade’ program or some other type of legislation should be used to supplement—not substitute—funding provided through the federal highway and public transportation authorization legislation,” he said. [return to top]

SAVE THE DATE


It's less than two weeks before APTA's Annual Meeting and EXPO.  See you there!

October 5 - 8, 2008 - San Diego, CA

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House Passes Massive Rail Safety and Amtrak Authorization Bill

Congress combined pending legislative proposals to revamp the federal rail safety laws and authorize spending for Amtrak into a single bill (H.R. 2095) in an effort to expedite passage before the expected Congressional adjournment this weekend.  The new legislation contains compromise versions of competing rail safety and Amtrak bills that passed both the House and Senate earlier this year.  The legislation passed the House by a voice vote yesterday and awaits consideration in the Senate.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he plans to bring the bill the Senate floor prior to adjournment.  

The rail safety portion of the legislation contains several measures aimed at preventing accidents on the nation’s rail system, including a new “hours of service” requirement for rail operators, and a provision advanced by APTA that exempts commuter rail operators from the new hours of service laws for three years -- and allows the industry to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to develop an alternative that recognizes the differences between commuter and freight rail operations.  The bill, which requires all major freight and passenger rail lines to implement “positive train control” systems by December 31, 2015, authorizes $250 million in federal grants over five years.  This was spurred by the Metrolink/Union Pacific accident on September 12.

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DHS Prohibited from Imposing Grant Match Requirements for FY 2009

Good news!  As you know, the FY 2008 Transit Security Grant Program requires matches for capital projects and operations, with the grants going through the states.  When the House considers the continuing resolution that includes the FY 2009 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, there is statutory language that prohibits DHS from imposing a match requirement for FY 2009 as well as FY 2008, and directs the DHS to transmit grant funding directly to transit authorities. [return to top]

IN THE MEDIA

New York City MTA added Google's map service this week showing travelers how to navigate the city's transit system.

Transit authorities across the country take aim at improving manners.  Read all about it by the Well Mannered Traveler, Harriet Baskas.

Public transit -- becoming increasingly popular in Chicago.

For the first time in its 33-year history, Transport of Rockland buses provided more than 300,000 rides in a single month.





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