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American Public Transportation Association

 APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee

4/23/2015

 (Download Document in Adobe PDF format)

On Thursday, April 23, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that investment in public transportation is an investment in American jobs and global competitiveness. He stressed that there is an $88 billion backlog in state of good repair capital investment needs industry-wide and that a long-term bill with increased funding is needed for program growth. Mr. Melaniphy urged the Committee to pass a bill that reflects APTA's priorities, a six-year $100 billion transit title to the next surface transportation authorization bill to grow the transit program from $10.7 billion to $22 billion by 2021. The other witnesses, as well as their organizations, included:

  • Mrs. Janet F. Kavinoky, Vice President, Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition Executive Director, Transportation & Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Ms. Barbara K. Cline, President, Board of Directors, Community Transportation Association of America, and Executive Director, Prairie Hills Transit
  • Mr. Harry Lombardo, International President, Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO

Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) reiterated his belief in a fiscally responsible funding method that could provide certainty and stability to the transportation system. He also questioned the witnesses about the viability of public-private partnerships (P3) as well as how transit agencies are addressing the state of good repair of their systems and how that should factor into decisions over system expansion.

Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stressed the issues with the current backlog of repairs that U.S. DOT has cited. He highlighted the flat-funding and short-term patches that have been used in the past and the instability created by such measures within the larger transportation system. He also spoke about the rise of ridership outpacing population growth and the need for investment for the increased dependency on transit systems throughout the country. The Senator Brown also followed on a dialogue he held earlier in the week with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan on his interest in encouraging greater U.S. content in transit procurements.

Other members of the Committee were focused on the need for long-term investments to address the multitude of needs, Buy America regulations, the transit safety program and transit worker safety, the role of private sector financing, and the challenges of workforce development.

To view the hearing in its entirety or to read the prepared remarks offered by the witnesses, please visit the committee website here. To view the opening statements from Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Brown, please click the links on their names.

Acting Administrator Therese McMillan Testifies Before Senate Banking Committee

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, April 21, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan kicked off the Senate Banking Committee's surface transportation hearings providing testimony regarding the upcoming expiration of MAP-21 and the Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA Act proposal. Chairman Shelby (R-AL), while indicating support for a long-term bill, emphasized the challenge facing Congress with funding, and spoke of the importance of finding more ways to leverage private sector investments, through Public Private Partnerships or other means, in order to make existing dollars go further.

Ranking Member Brown (D-OH) spoke of the need to pass a long-term bill and investment more, given the increasing demand for public transportation and the extensive state of good repair backlog. He also focused a great deal in his comments and questions on encouraging greater Buy America domestic content.

Members of the Committee questioned Acting Administrator McMillan on the Administration's local hire proposal. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Chairman of the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee, cited electric bus manufacturer Proterra as a South Carolina manufacturer. Senator Scott voiced concerns that, while likely not the intent of the proposal, the Administration's approach to geographic hiring preference would have the perverse result of encouraging manufacturers to move jobs from one state or community to another.

Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) each spoke of the importance of public transportation to rural states and communities, emphasizing that it is not just an issue for urban areas. Senator Moran spoke of his concerns over the bus and bus facilities program and the interests of his constituents to address those needs.

To view the hearing in its entirety or to read the prepared remarks offered by the witness, please visit the committee website here.

U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx Testifies Before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee

On Wednesday, April 22, U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx testified before the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee regarding their proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016). Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-ME) noted that while this proposed budget was bold, it did not deal with some of the larger reforms necessary for Highway Trust Fund solvency.

Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) noted the state of good repair backlog of Amtrak, as well as several other larger issues with maintaining the current transportation system we have. He also underlined the importance of investment in infrastructure for the nation.

Several members of the Committee asked many questions including the procurement of small urban and rural vehicle services, the recommendations on repatriation within the GROW AMERICA Act, Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation, and streamlining the permitting process for larger construction projects among other topics.

To view the hearing in its entirety or to read the prepared remarks offered by the witness, please visit the committee website here.

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