This morning, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released a letter outlining what would happen with FTA funding in the event of a government shutdown, which is looking more and more likely.
If Congress does not pass a funding bill by tonight, “90 percent of FTA’s staff will be furloughed” and the remaining 10 percent “will be limited exclusively to the oversight of already-awarded Recovery Act grants and the Lower Manhattan recovery efforts.” Staff will not be able to make payments to grantees, obligate research or technical assistance funds, or conduct reviews on projects currently under development.
On Thursday, we posted a Web poll, asking whether you thought the approximately 30 percent cuts across the board to public transportation in the proposed U.S. FY 2012 budget would remain in place. So far, the result, at 60 percent, has been overwhelmingly no. For those who think the cuts will be rolled back, are you equally confident that we won’t end up with the federal government out of commission?
I don’t really remember much about the last two government shutdowns in 1995, so I was particularly interested in this AP story, which laid out the ways a government shutdown would affect average Americans. Basically, we’ll still get our mail, unemployment benefits and tax returns — if filed electronically. Also, cancel your trip to that National Park; they’ll all be closed. However, emergency response, from air traffic controllers to military operations would not be affected.
What’s not clear, though, is what would happen for day-to-day public transit operations. With ridership continuing to rise on many systems across the U.S. due to ever-increasing gas prices, transit could potentially get slammed with a double-whammy over the next few weeks. What challenges would a shutdown present to you? What types of hurdles did you have to overcome during the last shutdown, and how did you deal with those?
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "How to improve bus operator reaction time" here.
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.