Today, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released H.R. ____, the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act” (INVEST in America Act). The bill authorizes surface transportation programs for five years with a total investment of $494 billion, including $319 billion for highways, $105 billion for public transportation, and $60 billion for commuter rail, Amtrak, and other high-performance passenger rail. APTA strongly supports the INVEST in America Act and its critical investments in surface transportation infrastructure.
The T&I Committee is planning to mark up the bill on June 17, 2020, with potential House Floor consideration at the beginning of July.
Please click here to view a fact sheet, summary, section-by-section analysis, and the text of the bill. T&I Committee Republican leaders do not support the bill. Please click here to view the House T&I Republicans Leaders’ response to the bill’s introduction.
APTA Webinar with House T&I Committee Staff to Discuss the INVEST in America Act
On Friday afternoon (June 5, 2020), APTA will host the House T&I Committee majority staff for a webinar on the public transit, passenger rail, and climate-related highway provisions of the INVEST in America Act. This webinar will be open only to APTA members. We will provide more information regarding the webinar (including a registration link) as it becomes available.
Summary of the INVEST in America Act
APTA’s Top Three Priorities
The bill addresses each of the Top Three Priorities that were adopted by consensus in APTA’s Recommendations on Surface Transportation Law (APTA’s Recommendations). The bill provides $105 billion for public transit and $60 billion for passenger rail, and these funding levels are consistent with the historic levels that APTA requested over the five-year period. The bill includes significant increases for programs that address state of good repair and new capacity. The bill also significantly increases funding for the Buses and Bus Facilities (49 U.S.C. § 5339) program, growing from $809 million in the last year of the FAST Act to $2.15 billion in the last year of the INVEST in America Act. Finally, the legislation creates a Mobility Innovation program to permit public transit agencies to collaborate on mobility on demand services.
Funding and Financing
The bill does not include revenues to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which is the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Ways and Means. However, it expands Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT) pilots and establishes a national VMT pilot program, consistent with APTA’s Recommendations.
The bill makes several changes to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), including a clarification that TIFIA shall be considered local match if the loan is repayable from non-Federal funds. For the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, the bill authorizes $150 million over five years to help pay credit risk premiums for certain borrowers, $70 million to refund the credit risk premiums of certain past loans, and permanently extends the authorization for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects.
Capital Investment Grants
Section 2911 of the bill includes numerous reforms to the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program that were proposed in APTA’s Recommendations. The provisions allow project sponsors greater flexibility in the CIG program and provide a higher commitment from federal partners. The reforms include increasing the federal CIG share for all projects (including New Starts) to 80 percent; increasing the Small Start federal funding and total funding caps; extending Project Development from two to three years; and reforming certain financial requirements throughout the process.
Section 2203 of the bill includes new flexibilities to enhance mobility on demand (MOD) and mobility as a service options. The bill permits transit agencies to use section 5307, 5310, and 5311 formula funding for new and innovative MOD programs that integrate new technologies. It also provides the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) with flexibility to waive regulatory requirements that impede mobility innovation, except for safety, labor, and Buy America requirements. DOT is required to conduct a negotiated rulemaking on open data standards.
The bill recodifies the Buy America provisions into a new section 5320 and eliminates statutory language that allowed waived components and components exceeding 70 percent domestic content to receive credit for 100 percent domestic content. The bill provides a bonus of an additional 10 percent of domestic content for any component exceeding 70 percent domestic content, and an additional 15 percent of domestic content for any component that exceeds 75 percent domestic content. It allows final assembly costs to count toward domestic content and requires the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to conduct rolling stock certifications.
The bill includes a rail title, the Transforming Rail by Accelerating Investment Nationwide (TRAIN) Act, authorizing $60 billion to address rail infrastructure needs, expand intercity passenger rail routes, and provide enhanced availability of funding to commuter rail agencies.
The bill includes $19 billion for a new competitive grant passenger rail program, the Passenger Rail Modernization and Expansion (PRIME) program. PRIME will provide funding for state of good repair, operational performance, or growth of intercity passenger rail. High-speed rail projects are eligible for funding under this program. The program gives priority to projects that incorporate regional planning, support from multiple states, and environmental benefits.
The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) program is authorized at $7 billion over five years, consistent with APTA’s Recommendations. The bill makes commuter rail agencies eligible to compete for CRISI funding, and expands the eligible use of CRISI funds to include commuter rail transportation improvement projects and the maintenance and upgrade of rail safety technology (including positive train control). In addition, the bill sets aside 50 percent of CRISI funding for large infrastructure projects (i.e., more than $100 million), and removes a preference for projects with less federal funding. The bill revises the Surface Transportation Board’s authority to mediate disputes involving commuter rail track usage and right-of-way usage requests, requiring rail carriers to give good faith consideration to such requests. Finally, the bill includes a new highway-railroad grade separation program funded at $2.5 billion over five years.
CALL TO ACTION
We encourage you to contact your Representative today and strongly urge them to support the critical public transit and passenger rail investment included in the INVEST in America Act.
To contact your Members of Congress, please call 202.224.3121.