Keeping Up with Federal Transportation Funding

Feb. 10, 2012

Trying to keep up with what's happening with federal transportation funding and keeping up with all of the online analysis has become a full-time position. Not only trying to follow as much as possible online, keeping up with the phone calls and emails people are passing along with content of interest. So, keep it all coming.

Here are some things in the last few days that have provided some interesting perspectives ...

In case you haven't heard by now, the White House is backing Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, the Senate's $109B surface transportation bill, because of its certainty and funding for the nation's surface transportation programs.

On Transportation Nation this morning, Matt Dellinger wrote an article looking at how the GOP is now trying to undo what its hero, President Ronald Regan, established in the 80s, devoting 20 percent of the increased gas tax to capital improvements to transit.

He mentions that Reagan-appointed Federal Highway Administrator Ray A. Barnhart argued that "the time has come for us to recognize that highways and transit are inseparable — the two modes are interdependent and complementary."

For some opposing opinions, the New York Times editorial, A Terrible Transportation Bill, ran on Wednesday, outlining concerns about the House's transportation bill, including the uncertainty of transit funding.

That Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) Deron Lovaas points out some of the statistics of just how much states would lose money for highway and for transit. While 32 states would nominally receive more support, we are all aware the dedicated funding is taken away in the bill.

And from the national association, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held a panel discussion yesterday with transportation experts offering their insights regarding the HR 3864, House's funding proposal.

APTA CEO Michael Melaniphy stressed that this proposed bill, "would erode the nation's multimodal transportation system that provides both jobs and access to jobs for scores of Americans."

Daimler Buses, North America, Chief Commercial Officer pointed out something we're hearing from agencies across the country, "We are stunned by this proposal because we are seeing increased demand for riders on our buses. At the same time, this creates uncertainty for the manufacturer by not providing any funding for public transit beyond 2016."

Of course there are plenty of opposing views out there, including "In Defense of the House Highway Bill" by Ken Orski, who points out that most federal programs are funded through annual appropriations and that the Highway Trust Fund should be restored to its original mission.