Posts Tagged ‘Federal Transit Administration’

Endangered Transit Projects Listed

March 27, 2017

News media accounts indicate that the “skinny budget” recently released by the Trump administration would put at risk 16 transit projects in the United States.

The projects include: Phoenix Light Rail; Los Angeles Westside Subway Extension (Section 3); San Jose and Santa Clara BART Silicon Valley extension (Phase 2); Santa Ana/Garden Grove Streetcar; Fort Lauderdale Streetcar; Lake County, Indiana Commuter Rail; Maryland Purple Line; Minneapolis Light Rail (Blue Line); Minneapolis Light Rail (Southwest); Durham-Chapel Hill Light Rail; New York – New Jersey Hudson Tunnel; New Jersey Portal North Bridge; New York Second Avenue Subway (Phase 2); New York Bus Rapid Transit (Woodhaven Boulevard); Seattle Light Rail (Federal Way); and Seattle Light Rail (Lynnwood Link Extension).

The projects are at risk because they lack “full funding grant agreements,” which are needed in order to receive a New Starts grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers said if the funding rule proposed in the budget is enacted, these projects would either have to seek other funding sources or they would not be built.

NARP noted that the budget’s call for end federal funding for Amtrak long-distance passenger trains would end rail service to 220 communities nationwide. Those trains last year carried 4.6 million passengers.

Trump Wants to Cut Amtrak Long-Distance Train Funding, Trim Public Transportation Spending

March 16, 2017

Here we go again. Another president has taken aim at Amtrak’s federal funding.

The proposed fiscal year 2018 budget released by the Trump administration this week calls for eliminating federal funding of Amtrak’s long-distance trains and would impose other steep cuts in transportation spending.

Amtrak would not lose all funding, but the funding it receives would be focused on supporting services within specific regions, specifically the Northeast Corridor and state-funded corridors in the East, Midwest and along the West Coast.

The budget described long-distance trains as inefficient and incurring the vast majority of Amtrak’s operating losses.

Trump is seeking to cut the U.S. Department of Transportation budget by $2.4 billion or 13 percent.

If Congress adopts the Trump budget blueprint, DOT will receive $16.2 billion.

Also slated for deep cuts in the budget are Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

Funding of the New Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration will be slashed and limited to projects with existing full funding grant agreements.

In a statement with the budget, Trump said the DOT budget is being revamped to focus on “vital federal safety oversight functions and investing in nationally and regionally significant transportation infrastructure projects.”

A statement with the budget request said that the blueprint seeks to reduce or end “programs that are either inefficient, duplicative of other federal efforts, or that involve activities that are better delivered by states, localities or the private sector.”

In a statement, Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman said that Amtrak’s 15 long-distance trains offer the only service in 23 of the 46 states that the carrier .

“Eliminating funding for long-distance routes could impact many of the 500 communities served by Amtrak,” Moorman said.

“These trains connect our major regions, provide vital transportation to residents in rural communities and generate connecting passengers and revenue for our Northeast Corridor and state-supported services. Amtrak is very focused on running efficiently  — we covered 94 percent of our total network operating costs through ticket sales and other revenues in FY16 — but these services all require federal investment.”

Moorman pledged to work with the Trump administration, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Congress to “understand the value of Amtrak’s long-distance trains and what these proposed cuts would mean to this important part of the nation’s transportation system.”

As for transit funding, the budget blueprint says that curtailing federal funding leaves funding up to “localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.”
The American Public Transportation Association issues a statement saying it was surprised and disappointed with the budget details so far.

APTA noted that the administration has been touting a broad plan to spend $1 trillion for infrastructure investment, but “the White House is recommending cutting billions of dollars from existing transportation and public transit infrastructure programs.”

The trade group said the budget cuts would affect projects underway in Kansas City; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Indianapolis; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Fort Lauderdale, and Jacksonville, Florida.

The cuts to the TIGER program is aimed at what the budget described as “unauthorized” projects. In January before Trump was inaugurated , DOT had announced that $500 million was available. The TIGER grants were first awarded in 2009.

Among the 2016 grant recipients are San Bernardino County, California., which received $8.6 million for passenger rail service; Mississippi’s 65-mile long Natchez Railway, which received $10 million for rehabilitation and upgrades for five bridges; and Springfield, Illinois, which received $14 million to build two underpasses for proposed high-speed service between St. Louis and Chicago.

Federal Spending Bill Contains Rail-Related Items

December 22, 2015

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.