Dear Speaker Pelosi:
I write on behalf of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) more than 1,500 member organizations to thank you for your continued support for public transportation in economic recovery legislation. The investment in public transportation and inter-city and high-speed passenger rail infrastructure in the legislative proposal outlined this week would create and sustain hundreds of thousands of new jobs and help achieve critical national goals: better access to jobs for workers, reduced congestion on our roads, decreased fuel consumption within the nation’s transportation system and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
As you work to advance this vital legislation, APTA would like to offer three recommendations regarding proposed infrastructure investments to expand job creation effects and address critical public transportation system needs and national inter-city passenger rail needs:
An APTA survey of U.S. transit systems has identified more than $15.9 billion of “ready-to-go” transit projects that could be put under contract in less than 90 days. Any argument that transit investment cannot be obligated quickly is simply false. Outlay rates for transit investment in past years reflect the need for U.S. transit systems to use expiring funds ahead of recently appropriated funds and the burden of identifying separate funds for the local share of transit projects.
With economic recovery funding, U.S. transit systems can immediately begin new construction projects, acquire new clean and alternative fuel buses that are made in U.S. and address other critical capital needs. APTA’s member transit systems and businesses stand ready to use economic recovery funds quickly and effectively, and they will work closely with the Federal Transit Administration and the Congress to achieve that goal.
Include at least $2.5 billion, within the total funding for public transportation, for “Transit Energy Assistance” grants or similar authority to address ongoing transit service cuts, fare increases and employee layoffs at transit systems.M
Public transportation ridership is surging across the country, increasing 6.5 percent in the third quarter of 2008 – the largest quarterly increase in the past 25 years, but transit systems are cutting service, increasing fares and laying off employees as a result of increased transit fuel costs in the past year and declining state and local revenue sources that support transit. Last fall, one-third of transit systems that participated in an APTA survey reported service cuts or were examining potential service reductions. Today, transit systems of all sizes are cutting service and planning immediate employee layoffs. Transit saves the U.S. 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year, the equivalent of more than 11 million gallons per day. Public transportation services should not be cut when the United States is attempting to reduce its levels of energy consumption. The “Transit Energy Assistance” grants proposed by Chairman Oberstar of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would advance important energy-efficiency investments at transit systems while simultaneously stabilizing service levels and preventing fare increases and job losses at transit systems.
Demand for intercity passenger and high speed rail is at an all time high and Amtrak ridership is higher than at any point in its history. Amtrak and states and have identified billion of dollars of ready-to-go intercity rail projects. In addition, states and regional authorities throughout the country are advancing high speed rail projects to connect cities within a region, reduce congestion on our roads and airports, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, the Passenger Rail Working Group of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission reported that the total capital cost for re-establishing the national intercity passenger rail network between now and 2050 is $357.2 billion, or an annualized cost of $8.1 billion.
Thank you again for your support of public transportation’s role in economic recovery. If you have questions, please contact Homer Carlisle of APTA's Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4810 or email email@example.com.