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Dear Chairman Murray:
On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its nearly 1,500 member organizations, I urge your committee to provide no less than $12.4 billion for federal public transportation programs in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Transportation, HUD Appropriations bill. This level is consistent with APTA’s recommendations for FY 2010 under the next surface transportation authorization bill. It would help transit agencies begin to meet capital investment needs required to serve the growing demand for transit service and preserve and expand existing transit infrastructure.
We also encourage Congress to provide the full $300 million authorized in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 to advance positive train control (PTC) technologies and other safety measures for intercity passenger rail. Additionally, we urge Congress to adopt the administration’s proposal to invest an additional $5 billion in high-speed rail over the next five years. The funding directed to high-speed rail in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides a solid foundation on which a sustainable rail program can be developed, but additional long-term, predictable funding is needed for the development of high-speed passenger rail in this country. Increased investment in intercity high-speed passenger rail transportation will reduce harmful emissions, relieve highway and airway congestion, and bolster our global competitiveness.
In the current economic climate, investment in public transportation and rail infrastructure is critical. First, construction and preservation of an efficient transportation system is the foundation for the movement of people, goods and services needed to sustain a healthy economy. Second, and more important, at this point in time, public transportation stimulates economic growth and development by providing “green jobs.” According to the Economic Development Research Group, every $1 billion investment in the nation’s public transportation infrastructure supports approximately 30,000 jobs. Third, increased public transportation use reduces our dependence on foreign oil and lessens our nation’s impact on the environment. In 2008, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation – the highest level in 52 years – despite falling fuel prices in the second half of the year. More Americans are using public transportation and still more will use public transportation if we continue to invest in maintaining, improving and expanding the existing systems. To maximize the benefits of public transportation use, federal funding for public transportation should be increased by 20 percent annually.
We appreciate the support Congress has provided for public transportation and urge you to continue your efforts to bring our nation’s transportation infrastructure into the 21st century. If you have questions on APTA’s views, please have your staff contact Paul Dean of APTA's Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.