Three years and 10 extensions later, America has a new federal transportation reauthorization bill.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), along with transit agencies throughout the nation, applauds congressional leaders and the President for investing in America’s transportation future by passing this much-anticipated piece of legislation.
The bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, was signed by President Obama on July 6 and outlines $120 billion in funding for highway and transit programs over 27 months.
While many would prefer to see a bill spanning longer than two years, MAP-21 gives agencies confidence that there will be a dedicated and reliable stream of federal funding — at least for the next two years.
Having a guarantee from the federal government that they will continue to support transit operations and highway improvements over the long haul is essential to effectively plan for, deliver and maintain critical transportation infrastructure projects.
Perhaps the most important aspects of the bill are the changes to existing law that break down some of the bureaucratic barriers to project delivery allowing for expedited project implementation.
The changes are based in part on OCTA’s "Breaking Down Barriers" initiative, which was launched nearly three years ago, bringing together local and national leaders to identify ways to accelerate project delivery without sacrificing environmental protections.
Some key provisions from the initiative that are outlined in MAP-21 include:
• Allowing states, under certain conditions, to purchase right-of-way before completing the federal environmental review process.
• Allowing states to be reimbursed for pre-construction and design contracts before the federal environmental review process is completed.
• Setting deadlines for decisions by agencies responsible for environmental review, including financial penalties for agencies that do not complete the reviews by set deadlines.
• Allowing states or Metropolitan Planning Organizations to develop plans that address the potential impact of future transportation projects.
• Making permanent a current pilot program that allows the U.S. Department of Transportation to delegate NEPA review authority to states and expanding the program to include rail, public transit and multimodal projects.
These changes have been embraced with bipartisan support and ensure we preserve the environment while moving critical projects to construction earlier.
The result will be completing projects faster, creating jobs quicker and saving taxpayer dollars.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Public transportation on solid footing, will lawmakers face the music," here.
There is an epidemic of safety accidents, absenteeism and high turnover among transit’s front line employees and it’s bleeding the transportation industry billions of dollars. But the inoculation may be closer than you think. Employee engagement is the best immunization for what’s ailing the industry.
Video surveillance technology is a vital component to transit and rail operations as agencies recognize the value such solutions offer. A comprehensive system does more than deliver high quality video and audio recordings. Supporting data and software tools increase the efficiency of agencies’ video management operations, substantiate liability claims and investigations, and promote safety for both passengers and operators alike.
In case you missed it, Pope Francis visited America — and was followed by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims during his stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. It’s fitting, given Pope Francis’ penchant for public transportation, that transit played a key role in taking the masses to papal visit activities.
A transit authority’s website, contact center tools and social media are all critical touch points for customers as they engage with transit agencies. At this stage in the relationship, the focus should be on informing and educating prospective customers so they have the incentive to provide their demographic information (e.g. email address, cell phone number, social media contact, etc.).
Typically, when riding the rails in the Philadelphia region, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority customers can purchase daily, weekly or monthly passes — even onboard tickets — for their journeys. But the weekend of Sept. 26 to 27 will be far from a typical weekend in Philadelphia — Pope Francis will be in town, along with an estimated 1.5 to two million people attending public events along the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.