Kevin McCoy

Kevin McCoy

The Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) of the House Committee on Appropriations marked up and passed by a voice vote the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 THUD Appropriations bill, which continues historic funding levels, with $16.2 billion for public transportation and intercity passenger rail grants.

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the total funding levels are:

  • $150.5 million more than FY 2019 enacted funding levels (including $60.5 million for public transportation and $90 million for passenger rail grants).
  • $1.1 billion more than FY 2020 FAST Act authorization levels.
  • $1.9 billion more than the FY 2020 President's budget request.

"We congratulate House Appropriations THUD Subcommittee Chair David Price and the entire Subcommittee for its work to provide essential funding to bring the nation's bus and rail systems up to a state of good repair," said APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. "It is also significant that the Subcommittee provided specific guidance to the agencies to reaffirm the importance of moving forward with critical public transportation and intercity rail projects to meet the growing transportation needs of Americans."

Among the funding increases, the bill provides $827 million for competitive grants for the purchase of new buses and construction of new bus facilities, which is $483 million more than authorized in the FAST Act.

The bill also includes $2.3 billion for Capital Investment Grants (CIG), including $795 million for new fixed guideway projects with existing Full Funding Grant Agreements and $703 million for new fixed guideway projects. It also requires the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to obligate 80% of those dollars by Dec. 31, 2021.

It also includes language on FTA changes to the approval process for CIG grants, including prohibiting the FTA from requesting or requiring that any CIG project have a federal share lower than 50% of the project cost or determining the CIG share for New Start or Core Capacity projects until the project has been in Engineering for at least 180 days.

In addition, section 164(a) of the bill does not allow application of the Rostenkowski Test, an administrative provision that would require a $1.2 billion (12%) cut to public transportation formula grants in FY 2020 because of lower gas tax receipts.

In addition, the bill also does not allow the Federal Railroad Administration to take back the $2.5 billion in funding that has been provided to the California High-Speed Rail Project as well as the transferring of nearly $1 billion in California high-speed rail grants that were terminated last week.

The measure will be considered by the full House Committee on Appropriations in June, after the Memorial Day recess.