Is federal transportation funding back at square one?

Posted on May 25, 2011 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

While working on our annual Consultant Roundtable feature for the July issue, it is apparent that transportation authorization is still an extremely hot topic, as well as one that still has many scratching their heads.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica promised a draft of the bill by the Memorial Day recess, however, it looks as if that date will pass with still no bill. Where last year, many in the consultant industry seemed optimistic something would work out because of the Obama Administration's dedication to public transit, this year, most seem confident a bill is coming, but not one that will be favorable to the public transportation industry.

The reason why? There has still been nothing done to address the intense need for a new funding mechanism, especially as raising or implementing new taxes continues to garner negative reactions.

When asked if they had any short- or long-term solutions to solve the funding issue, most seemed tapped out of ideas, and instead, pointed to increased private investment as a way to help stem the funding gap. However, at the same time, most consultants were also quick to point out that private investment is not the magic bullet, so to speak, and will only be a successful tool if robust federal investment continues.

So, there you go, seems like we're back to square one all over again. The question is how can the federal government, which is trying to cut spending as much as possible, continue to find a way to be a major investor in public transportation with what appears to be no game plan to solve the funding issue?

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Plans for national rail network splintered" here.

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