President Bush presented a $1.62 billion funding package for fiscal year 2009 that includes new projects in nine cities. This New Starts amount is part of a total public transportation budget proposal of $10.1 billion, a 6.8 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2008.
“Well planned, cost-effective transit is crucial to relieving congestion, protecting the environment and reducing dependence on foreign oil,” said Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.
The budget proposes $200 million in funding for nine new projects in the Small Starts program, as well as four existing projects.
The Small Starts program was created under SAFTEA-LU so that smaller transit projects would not have to compete with larger projects for federal funding.
The plan also recommends $160 million for two larger construction projects, Denver’s West Corridor Light Rail and Seattle’s University Link, which are currently pending under the Federal Transit Administration’s major capital funding program known as New Starts.
Additionally, $1.14 billion is proposed for 15 other projects that have active long-term commitments for federal funding and are already under construction.
The ratings and recommendations are part of the Federal Transit Administration’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for New and Small Starts for Fiscal Year 2009.
APTA responded with disappointment over the funding amount. In a press release, President William W. Millar stated, “The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is outraged that the Bush Administration’s budget request for FY 2009 would cut $202.1 million for public transportation and proposes to transfer an estimated $3.2 billion dedicated for public transportation to fund highway projects. We hope that the Bush Administration will reconsider its budget proposal and work with Congress to fund public transportation and highways at the levels signed into law in 2005.”
A complete list of projects recommended for FY 2009 is available online at http://www.fta.dot.gov/2009newstartsreport.