Washington, DC. During National Infrastructure Week, the private business sector of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is meeting face to face with key legislators in Congress and U.S. Department of Transportation officials to strongly advocate for robust public transit funding in the federal budget as well as any new infrastructure bill. In addition, these business leaders are in Washington to work directly with elected officials in Congress to fend off threats to public transportation programs proposed by the Trump Administration.
“As APTA business members, we are the private piece of the national public transportation industry footprint, and we are proof that the jobs and economic impact go beyond simply where public transit systems operate,” said Jeff Wharton, APTA Chair of the Business Member Board of Governors. “Our supply chain is nation-wide and we provide manufacturing and construction-related jobs in small towns, rural areas and urban areas of all sizes.”
Previous research shows that a $1 billion-dollar investment in public transportation supports and creates 50,000 jobs. In addition, with every $1 communities invest in public transportation, it generates approximately $4 dollars in economic returns.
“The private sector is focused on creating jobs and growing the economy, but it is crucial that we have a federal partner that helps facilitate a safe and efficient national transportation network, of which public transportation is a critical component,” said Wharton. “Public transportation relieves congestion for goods moving to market, improves individual mobility and allows the national transportation network to operate efficiently.”
As the Trump Administration repeatedly commits to advancing a $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, details of the plan have been few and fluid, but consistent themes have emerged, including a broad interpretation of infrastructure, a heavy dependence on leveraging public-private partnerships (P3), regulatory reform and limited direct federal funding.
“Direct federal funding of public transportation must underpin any new initiative,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White. “While financing, public-private partnerships and regulatory reform, are important, those tools require direct federal funding to be effective. Using existing public transportation programs is the most efficient way to address our infrastructure needs, create new jobs, and boost private sector growth.”Recently Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in December 2015, which authorized spending for federal transit, passenger rail, and highway programs, through FY 2020. However, it did not fully address the significant backlog of public transportation infrastructure needs or the need to expand public transit services.
APTA officials note that Congress and President Trump should work together to pass legislation that invests significant resources in our public transportation infrastructure to address the $90 billion state of good repair backlog, as well as tackling capacity expansion and dealing with the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
While coming off a positive outcome of FY 2017 appropriations, in which Congress provided a record level of appropriations for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program despite the significant cuts President Trump proposed, the FY 2018 budget could be even more challenging. This is because there is the potential for the Trump Administration to renew calls to phase out the CIG program or eliminate federal support for transit programs altogether.
“We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to advance an infrastructure initiative, but we must start by fully funding the FAST Act, including the CIG program,” said White.
APTA member businesses also took out a one page ad in several Capitol Hill publications to show that private businesses strongly support public transit investment. To view, click here.
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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.