“On behalf of the 1,500 members of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), I am concerned and disappointed in the proposed House Transportation HUD Appropriation bill. The level of funding provided by the House Subcommittee on Appropriations is not sufficient to address the needs of current public transportation systems, let alone match the public’s growing demand and need for more public transportation service.
“We recognize that the Subcommittee did its best to address a multitude of priorities within the bill, but ultimately it neglects important investment needs due to an overly restrictive arbitrary top-line spending number. At a time when we are seeing record ridership on public transit systems across the country, cutting program funding levels or keeping them at the same level as the previous year does not address the growing demand for public transit service that requires a reliable increase in investment.
“The bill funds core transit formula programs at levels consistent with the current MAP-21 law. But funding for the New Starts program, which is instrumental for new rail and Bus Rapid Transit projects, would be funded at $1.921 billion, a decrease of nearly $200 million less than last year. While providing full funding for all current Full Funding Grant Agreement public transit projects, only $250 million would be available for new projects in FY 2016.
“It is important to recognize that this is an underfunding and elimination of critical programs such as the following:
• The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) – This research program makes our public transit agencies more efficient in the use of Federal funds by exploring complex issues within the capital and operational management of an ever evolving transportation network.
• Intercity passenger rail – The Subcommittee reduced and already underfunded Amtrak passenger rail account, and again neglected to provide resources to meet a congressionally mandated safety priority in positive train control (PTC).
• The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) – This is an agency grappling with significant state of good repair needs and does nothing to improve transportation in our nation’s capital.
Our country deserves better. Rather than have true needs set the agenda, we are allowing an arbitrary top-line spending figure dictate the investments we make in our nation’s future. I urge you to work to find the resources to fund these critical national transportation priorities.”
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.