On Tuesday (July 16), APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas testified before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, at a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Federal Transit Administration’s Implementation of the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program”. Other witnesses included:
- K. Jane Williams, Acting Administrator, Federal Transit Administration (FTA);
- Bob Alger, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Lane Construction Corporation, on behalf of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association; and
- Tom Gerend, Executive Director, The Kansas City Streetcar Authority.
Prior to the hearing, the Committee released a report on the CIG program, which found that project approval time has almost doubled since 2017, escalating project costs, and that the federal cost share for New Starts is shrinking. The Committee majority staff report can be found here.
In his testimony, Skoutelas said, “The CIG program is a vital source for expanding public transportation options for communities across America, and more than one-half of all states have benefited from these projects.” Noting that there are 12 projects under construction and another 53 projects in the CIG pipeline seeking $27 billion in funds, Skoutelas urged Congress to provide funding at or above the fiscal year (FY) 2019 level of $2.6 billion and require that the FTA invest FY 2018 and FY 2019 funds expeditiously.
Skoutelas also highlighted the need for a zero-based review of the CIG program to streamline the requirements and regulatory burdens of the process. He cited four policy reforms that could strengthen the CIG program, included in APTA’s Surface Transportation Authorization Recommendations:
- Establish a CIG Project Pipeline Dashboard that will allow the public to track the status of each project in the CIG pipeline;
- Codify a fixed federal CIG share for New Start, Core Capacity, and Small Start projects to provide certainty for project sponsors;
- Clarify that Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans are local match; and
- Reverse FTA’s 2018 Risk Assessment changes.
Other topics covered during the hearing included FTA’s June 2018 Dear Colleague letter, rural transit needs, delays in the CIG project pipeline, the Risk Assessment process, and TIFIA loans.
To view the full written testimony of APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas, please click here. To view APTA’s press release on the hearing, please click here. To view the hearing and all written testimony, please click here.
Skoutelas Participates in Congressional Bus Caucus and Bus Coalition Event
On Wednesday (July 17), Paul Skoutelas participated in a Capitol Hill event hosted by the Congressional Bus Caucus, co-chaired by Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Darin LaHood (R-IL), and The Bus Coalition. The event featured two electric buses from New Flyer and Complete Coach Works that were displayed outside the Capitol. Other speakers included Bill Carpenter, CEO of Regional Transit Service, Rochester, NY, President, The Bus Coalition; Scott Bogren, Executive Director, Community Transportation Association of America; Lindy Norris, New Flyer; and Brad Carson, Complete Coach Works.
APTA Public Transportation and Passenger Rail Funding Table
APTA has updated its Public Transportation and Passenger Rail Funding Table to reflect the small changes made to specific program funding levels (e.g., Bus and Bus Facilities competitive grants) during House of Representatives consideration of H.R. 3055, the “minibus” appropriations bill, which includes the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill (H.R. 3163). The updated APTA Table can be found here.
Chinese Rolling Stock Procurement Prohibitions Included in Senate and House National Defense Authorization Bills
On June 27, 2019, the Senate passed S. 1790, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020” (NDAA), which included an amendment (section 6015), sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), to prohibit federal public transit funding to procure bus and rail rolling stock from an entity that is incorporated in or has manufacturing facilities in the United States and “is owned or controlled by, is a subsidiary of, or is otherwise related legally or financially to a corporation based in” China. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 86-8.
In addition, section 6015 prohibits a grant recipient of 49 U.S.C. § 5337 State of Good Repair funding that operates a rail fixed guideway service from using non-federal funds to procure rail rolling stock from an entity supported by China. Specifically, section 6015 requires grant recipients of § 5337 funds to certify on an annual basis that the recipient will not “award any contract or subcontract for the procurement of rail rolling stock for use in public transportation” with an entity supported by China. The provision applies this requirement to “any contract”, not only contracts funded by a federal grant. Failure to comply with the certification requirement may result in the loss of § 5337 funding in that fiscal year or the next. These bus and rail rolling stock procurement provisions are not retroactive, and only apply to contracts executed after the date of enactment of the NDAA.
On July 12, the House passed its version of the FY 2020 NDAA bill (H.R. 2500). H.R. 2500 includes a similar provision (section 896) prohibiting federal public transportation funding to procure rail rolling stock from entities supported by China. However, section 896 only applies to the procurement of rail rolling stock. Section 896 requires the same certification for grant recipients of § 5337 funding. The bill passed the House by a vote of 220-197. In a Statement of Administrative Policy (SAP), the Trump Administration expressed support for section 896 of H.R. 2500.
The only substantive difference between the House and Senate bills is that the Senate bill applies to both bus and rail rolling stock and the House bill applies only to rail rolling stock. The House and Senate will resolve differences between the two bills in a Conference Committee. To view a Fact Sheet of the Chinese rolling stock procurement prohibitions in the Senate and House NDAA bills, please click here.
On June 16, APTA joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 40 national business and labor groups in sending a letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders urging them to resume action on infrastructure legislation this year. To view the letter, please click here.