Passenger Transport Express - 06/26/2009 (Plain Text Version)

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News Headlines

President Signs Supplemental Appropriations Bill with Transit Operating Assistance Provision

President Obama on June 24 signed a bill that includes a provision allowing public transit agencies to use up to 10 percent of their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) formula funds to cover operating costs of “equipment and facilities for use in public transportation.”

This language also allows public transit agencies to amend previously submitted applications to redirect ARRA funds toward operating needs. The measure was included as a rider to H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, which provides funding for overseas military operations.

A letter from the FTA administrator and a list of answered questions on adding operating assistance to ARRA grants are available on the FTA web site.

Washington Metro Train Accident Under Investigation

Since the tragic rail accident on June 22, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has been working with the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the fatal Red Line collision. The accident has brought attention to the need for investment in critical infrastructure. In addition, APTA has been communicating with the media to assure the public that public transit is one of the safest ways to travel. According to the National Safety Council, rail travel is 14 times safer than auto travel. [return to top]

House Climate Bill to Include Partial Eligibility for Transit; APTA Urges Dedicated Investment

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), James Oberstar (D-MN), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Doris Matsui (D-CA) on June 23 announced an agreement to allow states to use up to 1 percent of funding from H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), to invest in transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gases.

In its original version, ACES did not include transportation projects among the investments eligible for funding. However, APTA and its members were vocal in requesting that public transit be included.

Under the new agreement, states can use up to 1 percent of ACES allowances to fulfill state matching requirements on federally funded transit capital projects and other pollution-reducing surface transportation projects. However, APTA believes the bill’s allowances for public transportation investment should be larger and should be dedicated for this use, as noted in a June 25 letter from APTA President William Millar to Chairman Waxman. As of press time, the House was expected to vote on the bill sometime Friday, June 26. [return to top]

Sept. 15 Deadline for Supplemental TIGER Grants

In the June 17 Federal Register, DOT announced a Sept. 15 deadline for supplemental discretionary grants for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure under ARRA, referring specifically to the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants Program.

The latest notice incorporates comments received on the proposed selection criteria and guidance for awarding TIGER Discretionary Grants, as requested through a May 18 notice.

Applications must be submitted to the TIGER Discretionary Grants program manager at TIGERGrants@dot.gov. Applicants should receive a confirmation e-mail but are advised to request a return receipt to confirm transmission. Further information concerning this notice is available at the same e-mail address.
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FTA Releases 54 More ARRA Grants Totaling $346 Million; OMB Clarifies Reporting Requirements

On June 19, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that FTA had awarded 54 more grants totaling $346.2 million in ARRA funds. These grants bring the total amount of ARRA funding awarded to public transit agencies to $1.79 billion.

LaHood noted the “positive economic multiplier effect each time a recovery grant is awarded: the transit agency can now advertise for contracts, contractors can then begin hiring workers, and workers can begin spending the money they earn, putting it back into the economy. That’s economic stimulus.”

Specific grant information is available from the online ARRA Grants Digest. Among the recent ARRA grants awarded were $2.5 million to the Joint Powers Authority for Merced County, CA, for six 29-foot low floor buses to replace six vehicles that have exceeded their useful life cycles; in South Bend, IN, $3.7 million for construction of  a new transit center serving the communities of  South Bend and Misawaka.

In addition, the Office of Management and Budget’s latest guidance on ARRA reporting is also available on the ARRA web site.
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Scott Urges Ways & Means Committee to Invest in Public Transit; T&I Subcommittee Approves Draft Authorization Bill

In testimony before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on surface transportation investment needs, APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott, urged the Committee to adopt APTA’s recommendations for the upcoming surface transportation authorization bill.

Following a five-hour markup session June 24, the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee approved the draft surface transportation authorization bill released last week by T&I Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN). The measure passed by voice vote, with no amendments. However, most of the session, presided over by Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), entailed statements by subcommittee members  praising the Committee for its work on the bill and expressing dissatisfaction with the Administration’s push for an extension rather than a full six-year authorization. [return to top]

SEPTA’s Casey Testifies on ARRA Funding Before House Committee

Joseph Casey, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), represented APTA when he testified on his agency’s projects funded with ARRA grants at a June 25 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. At the hearing, dedicated to a 120-day review of the stimulus grant program, Casey discussed ARRA-funded SEPTA projects that have replaced 90-year-old track and overhauled bridges dating to 1905. FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo also described the successful implementation of the program by public transit agencies nationwide. [return to top]

More Details Available for Dump the Pump Video Contest

APTA’s recently announced National Dump the Pump Day video contest now features an online toolkit for public transit systems to use, available on the APTA web site. Full contest rules and instructions are also now available.

The contest is open to all members of the public (other than employees of APTA, its members, or their immediate families). Entries are due by Aug. 13.

The June 18 event brought more than 100 public transportation systems together to promote public transportation as a way for individuals to save money and help the environment. [return to top]

Save the Date

Fawn Germer, a best-selling author of five books and a former writer for The Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report and The Miami Herald, joined the speaker lineup for APTA’s 2009 Annual Meeting, scheduled for October 4-7 in Orlando, Florida. Germer has personally interviewed more of the world’s greatest leaders than any other speaker in the United States. From those leaders, Ms. Germer learned how to take advantage of adversity and use it as a defining leadership opportunity and will share her story with annual meeting attendees. [return to top]

In the Media

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was interviewed by the Oklahoman.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that a local high school has been awarded a hybrid bus for being named “America’s Greenest School.”

A 92-year-old British woman still serving as a station master has been named a Member of the British Empire, the BBC reported.

And The Dallas Morning News discussed projects that some Texas lawmakers hope will receive investment from the forthcoming authorization bill. [return to top]