The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) expressed disappointment that the Trump Administration reaffirmed its proposal to phase out the Capital Improvement Grants (CIG) program and eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, despite Congress' rejection of these cuts in the FY17 appropriations bill. In addition, while APTA officials appreciate the Administration putting forth an outline of an infrastructure proposal, they noted that public transit must be a significant part of any proposed infrastructure initiative.
"The Trump Administration has made it clear that infrastructure investment is important for our country's economic prosperity. Yet, this budget proposal to eliminate critical public transportation infrastructure projects is inconsistent with addressing America's critical transportation needs and helping America's economy prosper," said Richard A. White, acting president/CEO of APTA. "These targeted cuts to public transit go directly against the President's own calls for new infrastructure spending."
Congress affirmed this federal responsibility when it authorized $2.3 billion annually, through 2020, for the CIG program in the FAST Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by bipartisan votes of 83-16 in the Senate and 359-65 in the House of Representatives.
In the FAST Act, Congress also saw the value in Amtrak and authorized nearly $5.5 billion through 2020 for Amtrak's national network. Additionally, in recognition of TIGER's success, Congress annually funds this program at significant levels, which is routinely oversubscribed and supports important multimodal projects that do not always lend themselves to the traditional formula funding programs. Congress emphasized its support for public transit in the recent FY17 omnibus appropriations bill by providing funding for all three programs, including a record amount for the CIG program above the authorized level.
According to an analysis completed for APTA, called the “Economic Implications of Proposed Public Transit Capital Funding Cuts,” if these proposed public transit cuts are fully implemented, 800,000 jobs would be at risk and there would be a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output. The jobs at risk include 502,000 general construction and public transit equipment manufacturing jobs, along with 300,000 longer-term jobs associated with permanent, ongoing, economic growth, and development jobs. These transit cuts would jeopardize $38 billion of already planned projects.
"Funding the FAST Act must be the basis for any new infrastructure initiative," said White. "We are extremely concerned with the Administration's proposal to phase out existing infrastructure programs that are putting people to work building projects that our communities need and support."
APTA officials noted that the Administration's new infrastructure initiative would make $200 billion available over 10 years to leverage up to $1 trillion, but there are no details on how that money would be prioritized or allocated. These are questions APTA hopes will be answered soon.
The federal government is a crucial partner as federal investment in public transit covers 43% of all capital spending, APTA noted. Public transit systems across the country that serve millions of Americans in communities of all sizes rely upon this partnership to help support needed infrastructure projects.
"Many of the public transit ballot initiatives that voters approved last year raised local and state dollars that would serve as a match to federal dollars," said White. "This significant cut in federal funding rejects the voter's will because those projects were proposed with the expectation that the federal government would be a responsible funding partner.”