On June 17-18, 2020, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I Committee) marked up and approved H.R. 2, the “INVEST in America Act”.
Although APTA strongly supports H.R. 2, we have serious concerns with two provisions that address one of our top priorities: mobility innovation. Section 2203 (Mobility Innovation) and section 2603 (Innovation Workforce Standards) place restrictions on the incorporation of mobility on demand and automated vehicle services that would negatively affect public transit agencies’ capabilities to be flexible and deploy new and innovative services.
Section 2203 Mobility Innovation
Section 2203 permits public transit agencies to use 49 U.S.C. §§ 5307, 5310, and 5311 formula funding for mobility on demand (MOD) services and mobility as a service (MAAS). Although the federal share for these projects is 80 percent, that federal share is reduced by 25 percent if the recipient uses a third-party contract to perform a MOD service. In addition, the federal share is also reduced by 25 percent if the project involves an eligible use that uses a vehicle that is not a zero-emission vehicle. Section 2203 also includes a prohibition on the use of funds for service considered a taxi service. Under the provision, the Secretary has very limited authority to waive requirements, and can do so only if it is determined that the project will not undermine labor standards, will increase job opportunities and be consistent with the public interest. The Secretary may not otherwise waive labor, safety, Buy America, or Chapter 53 requirements that establish a maximum federal share for operating costs.
The Secretary of Transportation is required to publish guidance describing eligible activities that are demonstrated to increase transit ridership and be complementary to fixed route transit service, as well as guidance for a host of other activities. An amendment to the bill added during the markup requires the Secretary to ensure in the guidance that all costs associated with fare collection modernization shall be considered eligible expenses subject to the applicable federal share and include direction on how agencies shall provide unbanked and underbanked users with opportunities to benefit from MAAS platforms.
Section 2603 Innovative Workforce Standards
Section 2603 of the bill prohibits the use of federal transit funds for automated vehicles providing public transportation unless the public transit agency certifies to the Secretary that the deployment does not duplicate, eliminate, or reduce the frequency of existing public transportation service and the Secretary receives, approves, and publishes from the transit agency a workforce development plan. A workforce development plan is required when the service, combined with any other automated vehicle providing public transportation or MOD service, exceeds by more than 0.5 percent the recipient’s total transit passenger miles traveled. In addition, if a transit agency proposes to deploy a MOD service, it must certify that the service meets the criteria of section 2203, as noted above, as well as the workforce development plan requirements.
CALL TO ACTION
We strongly urge you to let your Representative know about the impacts of these proposals on your mobility innovation operations and urge the U.S. House of Representatives to adopt APTA’s Mobility and Innovation proposal.
To contact your Member of Congress, please call 202.224.3121.