Federal Spending Bill Contains Rail-Related Items

A $1.1 trillion federal spending bill approved last week by Congress and President Barack Obama contains a number of railroad-related items, including a permanent extension of the transit commuter benefit, an increase in funding for the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration, and funding of Amtrak and various transit-rail and port projects.

Also included in the bill was an extension to the 45G short line tax credit, funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program and increases in the New Starts funding.

The spending bill will keep federal agencies funded through the end of September 2016.

The American Public Transportation Association said the commuter benefit will rise from $130 to $250 and increase to $255 in calendar year 2016.

APTA has long advocated for a permanent extension of the transit commuter benefit. The new funding legislation increases the amount that an employer can offer to employees either as a tax-free fringe benefit or as a pre-tax option in order to pay for their transit commuter costs to and from work.

The public transportation advocacy group said that changes combined with a cost-of-living adjustment under an IRS code will equalize commuting costs between car commuters and transit commuters, marking an “end to the annual fight to restore parity to transit commuter tax benefits,” APTA said in a statement.

The spending bill increases the funding for the FTA by $870 million to $11.8 billion. FRA’s funding will increase by $52 million to $1.7 billion.

Of the money appropriated for the FTA, $9.34 billion will be allocated from the Mass Transit Account and $2.177 billion will be allocated to the New Starts Program.

The Railroad Track Maintenance Tax Credit, also known as the 45G short line tax credit, was extended to Jan. 1, 2017, allowing short line railroads created after 2005 to claim the credit.

An eighth round of TIGER grants received $500 million, the same amount that was awarded last October for the seventh round of TIGER funding.

Amtrak will be funded at $1.39 billion, but there is no allocation for high-speed rail.

The bill provides $350 million for Section 130 grade-crossing funds and $50 million for railroad safety grants split between the railroad safety infrastructure improvement grant program and railroad safety technology grants for positive train control implementation.

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One Response to “Federal Spending Bill Contains Rail-Related Items”

  1. Thomas Camp Says:

    What is happening in Waterloo Indiana? They received a $1.8 million grant to up grade the Amtrak station in 2010. Yet to date Amtrak passengers are using a bus stop type shelter with no bathroom facilities.

    Press releases from city officials keep stating: sometime in the next six months, then it was before the end of the year (2015), now it is sometime in 2016.

    It is time for some accountability.

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