March 30, 2011

APTA: Congress must support transit, remove funding barriers

On Tuesday, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President William Millar urged Congress to increase federal investment in public transportation and detailed ways for Congress to more efficiently target investments to improve and expand America’s public transit systems.
 
In testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Millar called on leaders in Congress to promote growth and innovation in public transit, particularly by passing a well-funded six-year multimodal surface transportation bill.

“New federal investment would produce much-needed progress toward bringing our nation’s public transportation infrastructure up to a state of good repair and building the capacity for millions of new riders,” Millar said in prepared testimony. He noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated that more than $78 billion is needed to bring existing transit infrastructure up to a state of good repair.

Highlighting the dire situation facing public transportation, Millar told the Subcommittee about the results of new research, which found that rising gas prices will directly lead to a massive increase in ridership on public transit systems around the country. “The volatility of the price at the pump is another wake-up call for our nation to address the increasing demand for public transportation services,” Millar said.

Millar also discussed new options for public transit funding, including public-private partnerships and other types of innovative financing, but cautioned that “new financing tools do not replace the need for expanded federal investment.”

In addition, Millar shared specific policy recommendations that can help cut costs and streamline federal transportation programs, which were developed with input from APTA’s diverse membership of public and private sector leaders. These recommendations include:

• Eliminating overly burdensome requirements and approval processes in the New Starts program, such as the duplicative Alternatives Analysis requirement.

• Enhancing and broadening the TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) program.

• Consolidating the Job Access and Reverse Commute, New Freedom and Elderly and Disabled Formula programs into a single, new Coordinated Mobility Program.

• Continuing to support and fund the Small Transit Intensive Cities program.

Millar noted that he looked forward to continued work with the Subcommittee, saying that “we hope that our recommendations can speed up the implementation of transportation projects without impacting environmental protections for all Americans and that such streamlining can reduce project costs in the process and bring the benefits of project investment on-line sooner.”

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