Monday, August 03, 2009

Senate panel boosts spending for new transit starts

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Transit new-starts funding got a strong boost when the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill as Congress prepared to close down for its August recess.

The bill provides more than $11 billion for transit, $834.4 million or 7.5% over last year’s amount. “Most of the growth is due to a large increase in funding provided for the New Starts Program, which would receive $2.307 billion, an increase of $489 million over last year’s level,” said the American Public Transportation Association.

In the Senate version, High Speed and Intercity Rail gets $1.2 billion. There's $50 million for Positive Train Control implementation and  $1.1 billion for  multi-modal “projects of national significance.”

Earlier, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the  bill. It’s version provides $10.484 billion for transit programs and $4 billion for High
Speed and Intercity Rail. Of the amount for public transportation, $10.333 billion is for existing Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs. This is a $101 million or 11% increase over last year’s bill.

While most FTA programs received modest increases under the House THUD bill, noted APTA, the Bus and Bus Facilities Program received $584 million—$300 million less than last year’s level.

The House provision of $4 billion for High Speed and Intercity Rail is $3 billion more than the President’s request, said APTA. “The legislation contains a provision that would allow $2 billion of that amount to be transferred to a National Infrastructure Bank, if one is created by Congress prior to September 30, 2010. It does not include funding for the implementation of Positive Train Control, which was authorized under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.”