On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) more than 1,500 member organizations across the nation, APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A White, expressed strong opposition to proposals to cut funding for key public transportation programs in the House Budget Committee’s Budget Resolution for FY 2018. At risk is the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program for new capacity and expansion public transit projects, the multimodal TIGER grant program, reduced support for Amtrak, and a prohibition of high-speed rail federal funding.
“Public transportation infrastructure programs serve national interests and have strong bipartisan support. The Budget Resolution proposes devastating cuts at a time when the federal government should be investing more, not less, in the nation’s transit and rail infrastructure,” said White. “This proposal is puzzling since this Congress has already rejected the CIG cuts as recent as last night.”
Congress first rejected this proposal, which was advanced by the Trump Administration, when it fully funded the CIG program at the level authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in the FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriation. Additionally, the House Appropriations Committee rejected the proposal in the FY 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill that was approved yesterday, July 17.
Based on an analysis by the Economic Development Research Group and APTA, White said, “The proposal to halt the robust pipeline of these worthy and vetted projects would put 800,000 jobs at risk, including 502,000 construction and related jobs and an additional 300,000 longer term jobs associated with economic productivity, and would result in a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output.
“Public transportation supports our national economy and main street businesses as well and gives Americans crucial mobility options,” said White. “Nearly 90 percent of public transportation trips directly benefit the economy by getting people to work and connecting them to local businesses. The role of the federal government is key to restoring our national surface transportation network, including public transportation, to a state-of-good repair and meeting demands for new capacity.”
Congress reaffirmed this federal role when it authorized $2.3 billion annually, through 2020, for the CIG program in the FAST Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by bipartisan votes of 83-16 in the Senate and 359-65 in the House of Representatives. Eliminating this program in the middle of the authorization would pull the rug out from under communities that have spent local, state and federal resources advancing their projects through the CIG process with the expectation that Congress would make good on the commitment made to this program under the FAST Act.
“We urge Members of Congress to strongly oppose proposed funding reductions to these programs and look forward to continuing to work with Congress to implement all FAST Act programs at their authorized levels,” said White. “Also, we call on the Administration and Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to dramatically increase investment in public transportation and other infrastructure, in addition to fully funding transportation programs under the FAST Act.”