"APTA commends the leadership of chairman John Mica (R-FL) and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for moving forward with developing a six-year, multi-modal surface transportation authorization bill. The chairman's efforts to expand project financing, streamline project delivery, and simplify federal grant programs are important components of the proposal. However, the bill's investment levels, which are severely limited under the House-passed budget resolution and its rules, are woefully short of what is required to address the nation's surface transportation infrastructure investment needs.
"With high gas prices and a slow economy, now is not the time to implement cuts of more than 30 percent in public transportation funding. This lack of investment in the nation's public transportation infrastructure will have a chilling effect on our country's ability to create jobs and provide access to jobs necessary to move the economy forward. One dollar invested in our public transportation infrastructure generates four dollars in economic return.
"This proposal would severely underfund critical elements of the federal transit program. The funding will not permit public transit agencies to address the costs of getting the existing systems to a state of good repair, which the U.S. DOT has estimated as a one-time cost of $78 billion, let alone meet the growing demand for public transportation services in the United States. It will severely curtail the purchase of new buses and trains, reduce critical maintenance and safety programs, and could cut operating funds for transit systems in small communities and rural areas.
"While we commend chairman Mica's efforts to leverage federal dollars through the various financing projects, there is no substitute for actual investment.
"We strongly urge the Congress to move forward with a bill that increases transportation investment or at the very least, maintains current funding levels. We look forward to gaining more details of this proposal and welcome the opportunity to work with the U.S. House and the Senate in funding the critical needs of the nation's public transportation systems."
The current SAFETEA-LU legislation expired on September 30, 2009, and the extension expires in less than three months on September 30.