Posts Tagged ‘public transportation’

House Committee OKs Pandemic Aid for Amtrak

February 14, 2021

A congressional committee on Wednesday approved transportation funding for a COVID-19 relief bill.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a plan put forth by committee Democrats to provide $1.5 billion for Amtrak and $30 billion for public transit.

The committee also approved a policy rider directing Amtrak to restore without 90 days daily service for long-distance trains that operated daily before last fall.

The Amtrak funding had to survive two efforts by committee Republicans to eliminate it.

The committee defeated a motion by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) to cut the Amtrak funding from the bill.

Another committee member, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas) withdrew an amendment to transfer the Amtrak emergency funding to a highway-rail grade crossing program.

Crawford withdrew his amendment after Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) agreed to work with Crawford on the grade crossing issue in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization bill.

The bill now advances to the full House. The Senate is expected to consider a counterpart COVID-19 pandemic relief bill.

Amtrak funding as approved by the House committee would be broken down to $820,388,160 for the Northeast Corridor and $679,622,840 for the national network.

The bill directs that not less than $165,926,000 of the combined amounts of the NEC and national network is to be used to restore all long-distance service in effect as of July 1, 2020, and to recall all workers put on furlough on or after Oct. 1, 2020.

Another clause provides that not less than $109,805,000 from the combined amounts of the NEC and national network shall be used in lieu of capital payments that the state-supported routes and commuter authorities were required to pay.

Amtrak is to use $174,850,000 from the national network funds to offset amounts required to be paid by states for covered state-supported routes.

The $30 billion earmarked for public transit is to be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic and includes eligibility for operating expenses to prevent layoffs and avoid cuts to service.

The legislation includes mandates for how the funding it to be allocated among urbanized areas, rural areas and for services for seniors and those with disabilities.

Some of the public transit emergency aid can also be used for planning purposes.

Transit Agencies Seek More Emergency Aid

May 10, 2020

Leaders of 15 public transit agencies have written to Congress seeking additional emergency aid for public transportation.

The letter was signed by the heads of agencies in Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Newark, Oakland (California), Washington, Miami, Atlanta, and San Carlos (California.).

The letter did not specify a dollar amount but in a news release the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York said its estimates show transit agencies in the United States need $32 billion to enable them to get through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

The Rail Passengers Association said on Friday the American Public Transportation Association wrote a similar letter seeking $23.8 billion in emergency assistance.

That funding would be divided into $19 billion provided through the Emergency Relief Program, which would be distributed proportionally to all public transit agencies with a demonstrated need; and $4.75 billion provided through Urbanized Area Formula Grants, Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Grants; and Rural Area Formula Grants.

There would be no required local of state match of the funding.

The letter from the transit agencies said they need the aid to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and would supplement the $25 billion in emergency aid Congress approved for public transportation in March.

The letter said since that aide was approved, “a fuller picture has emerged of  . . . losses from dedicated transportation revenue streams, such as farebox, sales taxes, motor fuel taxes, tolls, mortgage-related taxes and other user fees.”

The letter said the usual funding sources for public transportation have taken “a massive hit.”

The transit heads said their systems will not be able to support the regions they serve without replenishing those losses.

“Our regions cannot recover without public transportation, and the nation cannot recover without resurgent economies in our regions,” the letter said.

Senate OKs FY2020 Transportation Funding

November 2, 2019

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment this week that blocked a 12 percent cut to transit agencies in fiscal year 2020.

The action came as the Senate also approved an appropriations bill that included funding for transportation programs including an increase in Amtrak funding.

The public transit cut would have amounted to $1.2 billion had it not been blocked.

Senator Martha McSally (R-Arizona), who sponsored the amendment to block the transit cuts with Doug Jones (D-Alabama), said the public transportation funding cuts would have been devastating to communities had they been adopted.

“These cuts could result in drastically reduced services, including those for low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities, and reduce funds necessary to modernize bus and rail fleets as well as slow construction of new stations and shelters,” she said during debate.

The spending bill funds transportation, housing and urban development, and related agencies.

The appropriations levels are similar to those adopted earlier by the House and the differences will now be need to be hammered out in a conference committee.

Because that process also involves reaching agreement on general spending figures for the budget as a whole, the reconciliation process may not be completed before the Nov. 21 expiration of a continuing resolution that is funding the federal government in FY2020.

Some congressional observers say Congress may need to adopt another continuing resolution in order to avoid a government shutdown.

In a related development, Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) acknowledged his committee has made no headway toward reaching an agreement on how to pay for increased spending outlined in the next generation of the federal surface transportation programs.

“There’s nothing new since we came back in September,” he told reporters in response to a question about funding a five year, $287 billion highway reauthorization proposal passed in August.

The Senate has yet to consider any proposals for mass transit or intercity rail funding.

Grassley said he has been unable to arrange a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to discuss the eventual size and pay-fors for a financing title.

Passage of the reauthorization bills may slide into 2020 or beyond.

Petersburg Bus Route Now Serves Amtrak Station

September 12, 2019

Public transportation to the Amtrak station in Ettrick, Virginia, has been started by Petersburg Area Transit.

The route to the state is the Ettrick/Virginia State/Amtrak route, which leaves 15 minutes after the hour every hour beginning at 6:15 a.m. and arrives at the station 32 minutes after the hour every hour until 6:32 p.m.

“Our goal is to have a true multimodal Station where residents can access any place in the country from right here in Petersburg,” said Petersburg Area Transit General Manager Charles L. Koonce Jr. “Soon Amtrak customers will be able to park at Transit’s Park and Ride Facility and take the bus to Amtrak.”

The Petersburg City Council earlier this year directed the city manager to proceed with the $8 million Smart Scale Park and Ride Project to provide 215 parking spaces next to the transit facility.

That project is expected to be finished in 2021.


APTA Promotes Public Transportation Use

April 29, 2019

In an effort to get more people to ride public transportation, the American Public Transportation Association launched an awareness campaign known as National Get on Board Day.

APTA described its as an education and awareness campaign aimed at emphasizing the significance of public transportation in local communities.
In a news release, APTA said more than 200 public transit agencies hosted activities, events and promotions to highlight the benefits of taking the bus or train.

Among the benefits, APTA said, is saving $837 a month by the average household using public transportation and using just one car.

Surveys have found that about 34 million people take public transportation daily. Although 77 percent of respondents described public transportation as the backbone of a mobile lifestyle just 50 percent said they had access to frequent public transportation service.

APTA said public transportation systems have more than $232 billion in critical projects in need of investment that would stimulate a 4-to-1 return of $928 million in economic activity over the next 20 years.

Transit Needs $232B in Infrastructure Investments

March 23, 2019

America’s public transportation systems need at least $232 billion in investments over the next 10 years in order to bring their infrastructure to a state of good repair, said the American Public Transportation Association.

APTA said it has discussed its findings with congressional staff members attending a legislative conference in Washington.

The study cited a number of sources, including a 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation infrastructure status report that concluded there is a $89.8-billion backlog of spending needed on state of good repair transit projects.

The report also included $51.2-billion in projects awaiting review for funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program.

Other data came from a survey of APTA members, 55 of which named 169 additional projects costing $91 billion.

Public Transit Ridership Down in 3rd Quarter 2018

January 15, 2019

The American Public Transportation Association said that there were 2.5 billion trips on public transportation systems during the third quarter of 2018, which was down 1.75 percent compared with ridership in third-quarter 2017 ridership.

Year over year, rail ridership was down on heavy- and light-rail systems, but up by 0.7 percent  on commuter-rail systems.

In a news release APTA said more than half of commuter railroads posted ridership increases in the third quarter.

“In order to increase mobility options, public transit systems are increasing frequency, improving routing, experimenting with fare changes, and engaging in partnerships to offer the best service possible to meet customers’ needs,” said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas.

Commuter railroads logged a combined ridership of 126.6 million trips during the third quarter, with 18 of 31 them reporting increases.

Commuter-rail systems that logged double-digit ridership increases in the quarter included Orlando, Florida, (70 percent); San Rafael, California, (65.8 percent); and Stockton, California, (10.5 percent).

Ridership on heavy-rail systems (subways and elevated trains) fell 2.4 percent to about 916.3 million trips in the quarter compared with a year ago. Increases were registered in Philadelphia (7.8 percent); San Juan, Puerto Rico (6.4 percent); Miami (5.9 percent); Atlanta, (1.4 percent); and Lindenwold, New Jersey (0.1 percent).

On light-rail systems (modern streetcars, trolleys and heritage trolleys), ridership in the quarter dipped 3.6 percent to 133.2 million trips compared with the year-ago period. However, ridership grew in only eight out of 27 systems. Agencies that reported double-digit light-rail ridership gains were Charlotte, North Carolina, (55.3 percent); Seattle-King County Metro (21.6 percent); Hampton, Virginia, (11.5 percent); and Houston (10.8 percent).

Report Links Public Transit and Lifestyles

December 15, 2018

The American Public Transportation Association said this week that nearly 80 percent of commuters surveyed view public transit as the “backbone” of a lifestyle that includes current and future modes of transportation and technologies.

The industry group said most commuters consider a range of conveyances as public transportation, including trains, buses, ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, bike/car-share, autonomous vehicles and scooters.

A report issued by APTA said public transportation has been disrupted by new technology, data capabilities and business platforms, according to the report.

“Technological change and generational change will make people more likely to use multitransit options and will allow the transit industry to reach new users,” the report said. “For example, new technologies and travel options are expected to reduce the affinity for car ownership, particularly as younger travelers are more open to using multiple modes to commute.”

Taking aim at critics of public transportation, the report said these changes are unlikely to reduce the need for public transit but instead mean that transit agencies must adapt to become “mobility managers” for commuters.

Managing mobility will be critical for public transit agencies when commuters have the option to take a train, bus, bicycle, autonomous vehicle or any combination of modes to get to their destination, the report states.

“Public transportation can move more people efficiently in less space; as travel options continue to grow, consumers will need a way to make the various travel choices clear and routine; and as consumers recognize growing income inequality and shrinking data privacy, the need to protect the public interest and serve the vulnerable will grow, as well,” the report said.

The survey was used qualitative focus group and a quantitative nationwide survey with a strong focus on millennials. It was conducted by Anazalone Liszt Grove with additional data provided by the National Academy of Sciences and other data sources.

Poll Finds 74% Favor More Transit Aid

July 25, 2018

A large majority of Americans believe that Congress should increase public transit funding, the American Public Transportation Association said this week.

A poll conducted for APTA by the Mineta Transportation Institution found 74 percent of respondents favored increased federal transit funding and 80 percent support using tax dollars for creating, expanding and improving public transportation in their communities.

The poll also found 80 percent of respondents said public transit is important to communities because it “helps businesses flourish.”

The survey collected data from 1,201 interviews with individuals across the United States.

Shuttles Begin to Pacific Surfliner Stations

January 17, 2018

Santa Barbara MTD is providing free “last-mile service” from Amtrak stations in Santa Barbara and Goleta to various employers.

The transit agency said the move was in response to a large number of people commuting by rail while Highway 101 is closed due to mudslides.

The shuttle service will operate Monday through Friday until further notice.

The first morning shuttles will hold for the train to arrive. The buses will be marked as “Special Shuttle” and will run on a continuous loop throughout the day.