The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) applauds Congress for completing negotiations on the fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill and including significant support for federal public transportation programs. We urge Congress to pass this legislation expeditiously so it can be sent to President Trump for his signature.
This appropriations bill would fully fund federal public transportation programs funded by the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, including $199 million in grants for Positive Train Control implementation.
The legislation would also make appropriations for important discretionary general fund programs. We are grateful for the $2.4 billion that would be made availabile for the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. We see this provision as a barometer of strong bipartisan congressional support for the program. Additionally, we appreciate that this bill would fund the TIGER program, transit security grants, and passenger rail programs, including support for Amtrak.
This legislative action shows that Congress understands the value of public transportation and how it plays a critical role in the economy and in the lives of millions of Americans in communities of all sizes. If passed into law, these investment in public transportation will positively impact direct and indirect jobs all around the country.
We believe Congress is acting in line with the wishes of the American public. A 2016 poll showed that 3 out of 4 Americans support increased public transportation investment. Facilitating efficient surface transportation, including public transportation, has long been recognized as a federal responsibility and it is critical to our global economic competitiveness. The federal government currently covers 43 percent of all capital spending for public transit.
Congress affirmed this federal responsibility when it authorized 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. In the FAST Act, Congress also saw the value in Amtrak and authorized nearly $5.5 billion through 2020 for Amtrak’s national network. Additionally, in recognition of TIGER’s huge popularity, Congress annually funds this program at significant levels, which is routinely oversubscribed and supports important multimodal projects that do not always lend themselves to the traditional formula funding programs.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 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.