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American Public Transportation Association

 To House and Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcmte on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and, et al on Funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Bill

 3/31/2016

The Honorable Hal Rogers
Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
U.s. House of Representatives
H-305, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 205105

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart
Chairman
Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
2358-A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable David Price
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515
​​​

(Click Here for Ltr to Senate Appropriations Cmte and Subcmte on Transportation, 
and Housing and Urban Development 
and, et al on Funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Bill)
 
Dear Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, Chairman Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Price:

On behalf of the more than 1,500 member organizations of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), I write to emphasize the economic and critical mobility benefits that can be accomplished with strong funding for public transportation programs, and to share our views on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 bill funding the Department of Transportation. We appreciate the opportunity to express our priorities for the appropriations process.
 
Federal investment in public transportation programs remains essential for economic growth and mobility needs in the 21st century. The recently passed Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act made a number of changes to program and funding structures of federal public transportation programs, and we urge Congress to fully fund both Highway Trust Fund and General Fund programs at authorized levels. Importantly, we are concerned that previous appropriations bills have underfunded crucial General Fund programs including Capital Investment Grants and passenger rail programs.
 
Public Transportation Programs
 
We support funding for Capital Investment Grants - which include worthy and vetted New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity projects - at the highest possible levels. These grants are the primary source of federal investment in the construction or expansion of heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferryboat projects. The ability for systems to expand or grow, in the face of a growing demand for quality service, is dependent on these funds. Public

transportation ridership has grown at a higher rate than both population and vehicle miles travelled since 2004. In fact, transit ridership has reached levels not seen in more than 50 years, reaching 10.8 billion rides in 2014 alone. The ability to respond to this demand is essential to keep our communities moving efficiently.

Research programs also continue to be critical investments that pay huge dividends for public transportation operators and users. We ask that you appropriate no less than the FAST Act authorization of $20 million from the General Fund to support Public Transportation Innovation research and development programs. Technology is rapidly expanding in the transportation sector, and our industry is committed to use new and innovative ideas to provide more effective and
 
efficient public transportation services. These programs allow groundbreaking best practices to be developed and widely adopted, as well as deploying vehicles that reduce emissions and provide better service.
 
We ask that Congress appropriate the authorized level of $5 million for Technical Assistance and Workforce Development programs. APTA is fully committed to growing and -developing the public transportation workforce, with diverse and highly trained individuals who will be able to effectively meet industry needs and adapt to the increased technological requirements required for jobs across the industry. The public transportation workforce is facing a wave of retirements, and investments in education and training are essential for the long-term success of our customer service-focused industry. Similarly, we urge Congress to appropriate authorized funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
 
Finally, we support appropriations for important Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs including funding for Public Transportation Safety and Transit Asset Management. Safety is our industry's first priority, and significant resources are needed for implementation of the broad, new safety program established in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and reaffirmed in the FAST Act. Similarly, continued investment in the development of transit asset management plans will improve safety and increase reliability and performance of public transportation systems.
 
Passenger Rail Programs
 
Increased federal funding to support commuter, intercity, and high-speed passenger rail service continues to be a priority for the public transportation industry. Enhancing our national passenger rail network with connections to other modes ofpublic transportation expands mobility options and is essential to economic growth. APTA urges Congress to fully fund all competitive Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grant programs and Amtrak programs at their authorized
levels.
 
The FAST Act is the first major surface transportation authorization bill to include a substantial rail title. The Act establishes three new, general-funded, intercity rail competitive grant programs. The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program is authorized $190 million in FY 2017 for projects that enhance safety, efficiency, and reliability of passenger and freight rail systems. The Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program is authorized for $140 million in FY 2017 for capital projects to replace or rehabilitate rail assets and facilities. Lastly, the Restoration and Enhancement Grant Program is authorized at $20 million in FY 2017 for operating assistance to initiate, restore, or enhance intercity passenger rail service. Each of these programs may include enhancements to commuter rail service.
 
APTA supports safe, efficient, and adequately funded Amtrak service and associated programs. For FY 2017, the FAST Act authorizes $474 million for Amtrak operations and projects along its Northeast Corridor and $1.026 billion for operations and projects along its National Network from the General Fund. APTA also opposes any legislative provisions that limit funding for the development of high-speed and intercity passenger service.
 
Additionally, the FAST Act authorizes $199 million in FY 2017 out of the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund to assist in financing the installation of positive train control (PTC) systems. While these funds are authorized out of the Highway Trust Fund, we want to reiterate our request to fully fund this and other Trust Fund programs at the full authorized level. This funding is important to help commuter railroads meet their commitment and responsibility, as a national safety priority, to implement PTC on all commuter and intercity passenger rail lines. With a total price tag in the billions of dollars, APTA will continue to advocate for federal funding that supports a greater portion of PTC costs for commuter railroads.
 
Thank you for your consideration of our priorities for the FY 2017 Appropriations bill. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to expand and improve access to public transportation in communities throughout the nation.​
​Sincerely,

Michael P. Melaniphy
President & CEO
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