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Dear Senator Reid and Senator McConnell:
Weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy inflicted unprecedented disruptions and damage to life, property and essential transportation infrastructure along the East Coast. The states of New Jersey and New York, in particular, suffered extensive damage to their subway, commuter rail and bus related infrastructure. To assist with the recovery of areas impacted by this “Superstorm,” the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) urges Congress to provide immediate assistance to the states and transit agencies that have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Specifically, APTA requests that Congress immediately enact an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that:
- Includes funding for all the areas identified in the President’s emergency declarations;
- Provides funds to states and transit systems through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Emergency Relief program;
Steps that can encourage the swiftest and most efficient recovery possible should be a top priority of the Federal government. As such, the involvement of the FTA, through the new authority created under the recent transportation authorization law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), is the most efficient way to restore transit facilities, equipment and service. The FTA is familiar with its grantees and understands their needs in assets and operations. The agency also has procedures and processes in place to effectively administer the needed grants, and its grant authority would be able to more quickly distribute the necessary funds than under the existing FEMA reimbursement process. The expedited access to resources for the states and agencies is critical for them to truly restore operations and be prepared to continue those operations in the long haul.
The full effects of Hurricane Sandy on essential public transportation infrastructure may not be known for some time. As repairs continue to be made, the affected transit systems continue conducting detailed damage assessments. The capital costs to bring systems to their pre-storm condition include repair and/or replacement of signal systems, track, tunnel lighting, pumps, communications, and power, as well as restoration work at depots, shops, and yards. I can guarantee, however, that the damage to these systems is unprecedented and news reports alone did not convey the extent of the devastation and the disruption to transportation and economic activity across the region. What is clear is that these areas depend heavily upon public transportation, which is essential to the day to day functioning of their communities and economies. Further, this economic disruption has wider national economic consequences. While state and local leaders and our transportation professionals are working tirelessly to restore service to basic levels of operation, the recovery, restoration and maintenance of these systems in the aftermath of the storm will likely take months and even years to complete. Things will not be “normal” for some time. Both immediate and long term federal assistance will be required to aid the recovery of the affected states, communities and transit systems. I urge the Congress to act immediately to address the needs of these states and their transit agencies.
The public transportation industry stands prepared to work with you to assist in the recovery from this tragic disaster.