Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its proposed $260 billion, five-year transportation authorization bill, which was approved by a 29 to 24 vote.
On the surface, it would seem as if this action was a step in the right direction for a long put-off bill that is incredibly important to many, including those in the public transportation industry. However, later that same week, in a party-line vote, with two dissenting Republican members, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to end a 30-year federal commitment to dedicated funding for public transportation. The measure takes from transit the 2.86 cents of the federal gas tax and eliminates the Mass Transit trust fund, forcing public transit to compete for general funds that are in line for tough budget cuts.
The actions taken by the House Ways and Means Committee received plenty of criticism from groups, including the American Public Transportation Association and Transportation For America. In one particularly scathing assessment of the bill and the decision to end the 30-year-old funding mechanism, the National Resource Defense Council's Deron Lovaas called the House bill "fiscally reckless."
It would seem that the plan to eliminate the Mass Transit trust fund has a far greater impact on the industry than the dollar amount or length of a proposed authorization bill — the Senate Environmental Committee on Environment and Public Works' proposal is for a two-year, $21 billion bill. With that said, I know the usual suspects will support the Republican-driven House bill, but it seems again as if we are a long way from actually seeing an authorization bill passed.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Bus operator training - fair and balanced " 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.