Senate introduces bipartisan infrastructure bill - here are the transit highlights

Aug. 2, 2021
The legislation includes reauthorization funding levels for the next five years, as well as supplemental funding for transit and passenger rail projects.

The U.S. Senate introduced its $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill late on Aug. 1, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stating his confidence the legislation could be debated and voted on in a matter of days.

The bipartisan group of senators, five Republicans and five Democrats, who worked to negotiate and craft the language of the bill issued the following statement:

“Over the last four days we have worked day and night to finalize historic legislation that will invest in our nation’s hard infrastructure and create good-paying jobs for working Americans in communities across the country without raising taxes. This bipartisan bill and our shared commitment to see it across the finish line is further proof that the Senate can work. We look forward to moving this bill through the Senate and delivering for the American people.”

The bill is known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and has been introduced as an amendment to the INVEST in America Act that passed the House in early July.

In remarks on the Senate floor shortly before introducing the bill, Sen. Schumer explained the plan was to quickly pass the bill before moving to a budget resolution that Democrats will drive to further investments in what has been dubbed “human infrastructure.”

The bill includes surface transportation reauthorizations, as well as additional supplemental funding.

Listen to a portion of Sen. Schumer's speech on the floor of the Senate prior to the bill's formal introduction: 

Highlights of what the bill includes for transit and passenger rail

The bill includes a total of $69.9 billion over five years in authorized spending for transit starting with $13.36 billion in 2022 and increasing to $14.64 billion in 2026; this amount includes:

  • Transit-oriented development planning funding starting with $13.16 million in 2022 and increasing to $14.43 million in 2026;
  • Enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities funding starting with $371.25 million in 2022 and increasing to $407 million in 2026;
  • Pilot program for innovative coordinated access and mobility starting with $4.61 million in funding in 2022 and increasing to $5.05 million in 2026;
  • Rural Area Formula funding of $875.29 million in 2022 and increasing to $959.6 million in 2026;
  • State of Good Repair formula funding starting with $3.52 billion in funding in 2022 and increasing to $3.85 billion in 2026;
  • Low or No Emission Program competitive grants of $71.6 million in 2022 and increasing to $78.5 million in 2026;
  • Growing states and high-density states formula funding starting with $741 million in 2022 and increasing to $812.5 million in 2026;
  • Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program is authorized at $3 billion each year; and
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority grants of $150 million/year through Fiscal Year 2030.

For passenger rail, some of the highlights of the authorized funding include:

  • Northeast Corridor (NEC) grants starting with $1.57 billion in 2022 and increasing to $1.4 billion in 2026 and National Network grants that start with $2.3 billion in 2022 and increase to $3 billion in 2026; the bill states $50 million per year will be designated for accessibility upgrades;
  • Federal-State partnership for intercity passenger rail grants is authorized at $1.5 billion per year;
  • Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants are authorized at $1 billion per year; and
  • Restoration and Enhancement grants are authorized at $50 million per year.

Above the authorization amounts, the bill also includes supplemental funding for many of the above programs.

Within the Federal Railroad Administration’s funding is:

  • $22 billion for Amtrak, which includes $6 billion for the NEC and $16 billion for the national network; the bill states the Secretary of Transportation will submit a detailed spending plan 180 days after the bill’s enactment for these funds;
  • Intercity Passenger Rail grants are provided $36 billion with $24 billion designated for use on the NEC; and
  • CRISI is provided with an additional $5 billion in grants and $3 billion is provided for the Railroad Grade-Crossing Elimination Program.

The Federal Transit Administration’s funding includes:

  • $10.25 billion for grants split evenly during the bill’s five-year timeline, which includes:
  • $950 million per year for State of Good Repair grants;
  • $1.05 billion per year for Low or No Emission grants; and
  • $50 million per year for Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities grants.
  • The CIG Program is provided an additional $8 billion ($1.6 billion per year) with the following funding breakdowns:
    • 55 percent of the funding is designated for New Starts projects;
    • 20 percent of the funding is designated for Small Starts projects;
    • 15 percent of the funding is designated for Core Capacity projects; and
    • 10 percent of the funding is designated for projects in the Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program.

Within the additional funding for transit is the All Stations Accessibility Program, which was introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in May for legacy rail systems to upgrade their facilities to be ADA compliant. The program will provide $350 million per year in competitive grants that will cover no more than 80 percent of project cost.

Text of the bill can be found here

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.