Come Together to Shut Down the Shutdown, Fund a Transit Bill

Posted on February 12, 2019 by Janna Starcic - Also by this author

Agnostic Preachers Kid CC-BY-SA-3.0
Agnostic Preachers Kid CC-BY-SA-3.0

As I write this, we are a few days away from another potential government shutdown if negotiations on border security are not hammered out. I recently spoke with APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas about the impact of the shutdown on public transportation, infrastructure investment, and technology.

“The impacts that were beginning to take effect included everything from having to look to other cash reserves to bridge the gap when they were expecting the flow of federal dollars, to not being able to draw down any grants to pay bills due on capital projects and some of their operating expenses,” said Skoutelas.

“If the shutdown picks up again, I’m very concerned for the health of the industry and the individual agencies."

While some smaller agencies had to curtail services, some larger transit agencies had to juggle their resources and cash reserves and even tap a line of credit to make it through. “Chicago Transit Authority draws down in an average month, between $15 to $30 million dollars in federal reimbursement for its various capital programs,” he explained to illustrate the gravity of the situation.

“If the shutdown picks up again, I’m very concerned for the health of the industry and the individual agencies, because as time goes on, those implications will become more severe,” Skoutelas said.

Bipartisan push
On another financial note, during his State of the Union Address, the President called for a bipartisan push to rebuild “America’s crumbling infrastructure,” CNBC reported. Although spending $1.5 trillion over a decade for infrastructure projects was one of the President’s campaign promises, major funding has not been forthcoming, the report said.

When asked about funding for infrastructure, Skoutelas is optimistic. He cited the new leadership in the House and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) who is now Chairman of the House Committee of Transportation & Infrastructure. According to Skoutelas, DeFazio has indicated he wants to move a bill forward by as early as May.

“With the prospect of advancing an infrastructure bill this spring, this could be an opportunity to fix the Highway Trust Fund and possibly extend the FAST Act,” said Skoutelas.

“I will work to build bipartisan agreement around legislation, but I can’t do it alone."

“We face a $1 trillion surface transportation investment gap over the next 10 years to fix the infrastructure we have, meet future needs, and restore our global competitiveness,” said DeFazio in a statement. “I will work to build bipartisan agreement around legislation, but I can’t do it alone. This will require massive effort from the White House, stakeholders, and supporters in Congress to get something real across the finish line.”

My fingers are crossed that both sides of the aisle come together to avoid another shutdown and make some meaningful progress toward funding transportation’s past (backlog), present, and future.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More From the Editor's Blog Posts

December 19, 2018

New Year, New Hopes for the Motorcoach Industry

Hiring and retaining drivers is the greatest challenge facing motorcoach operators, according to 70% of respondents of METRO Magazine's 2019 Motorcoach Survey. The public transit industry is not immune to this issue either.

November 6, 2018

When voting 'yes' says 'no' to funding for transportation

I’m crossing my fingers that by the time you read this, the proposition repealing California’s gas tax and vehicle fees (SB 1) will have failed.

July 2, 2018

Lest we forget, we are all human beings

As you may know, I like to use this column to draw attention to transportation-related issues that are important to me, such as climate change, accessibility, and innovation.

June 30, 2015

Can Courtesy Campaigns Curb the 'Trashing' of Transit?

It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!

April 28, 2015

How transit agencies can manage the 'blizzard' of negativity on Twitter

Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation