On Thursday, leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I), Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn), Ranking Member John Mica (R-Fla), Highway and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore) and Ranking Member John Duncan (D-Tenn), released a summary of their proposal for the next surface transportation authorization bill, entitled "A Blueprint for Investment and Reform." The report describes, in detail, the committees' plans for the subsequent legislation, which will be introduced as the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 (STAA).
As proposed, STAA recommends a $450 billion investment in surface transportation programs, including $99.8 billion for public transportation programs administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) - a more than 90 percent increase over SAFETEA-LU levels. The bill also recommends an additional $50 million for the creation of a high-speed rail network in the U.S.
The proposal does not address, however, where increased revenues will come from to finance the program. This portion of the legislation must be developed by the House Committee on Ways & Means, which is expected to act at a later date.
"We applaud the Committee's efforts to streamline the process for public transportation systems to obtain the necessary federal approvals for new public transportation projects as well as funding for current transportation needs," said APTA President William Millar in a statement. "The American people have demonstrated that they want more travel options. More than 10.7 billion trips were taken in the U.S. last year - a modern record. APTA's first quarter of 2009 report shows that ridership remains strong and exceeded expectations with nearly 2.6 billion trips taken on public transportation, despite a quarter with significant declines in gas prices, higher unemployment and a general economic downturn."
To view a summary of the propsal, click here.