Friday, November 18, 2011

Congress OKs FY12 transport appropriations

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Both the House and Senate Thursday passed the Conference Report on a package of three appropriations bills, including the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) reports.

apta_logo.jpgAPTA says the Conference Committee itself approved the bill with near unanimous bipartisan support, by a vote of 38-1. The House passed the bill 298-121, while the Senate approved it with a vote of 70-30. The bill now heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.

Included in the Conference Report is an extension of the current FY 2012 Appropriations Continuing Resolution (CR), which expires Friday, Nov. 18. Congress needed to act to pass the extension to avoid a potential government shutdown of those agencies not included in the three-bill “minibus” package. The latest CR allows the government to continue its operations through December 16, giving Congress nearly a month to wrap up work on the remaining FY 2012 spending bills, APTA said.

The Federal Railroad Administration receives $1.6 billion in FY12, but as reported earlier, funding for high speed rail and intercity passenger rail grants is eliminated. Amtrak capital funding is set at $952 million, but only $466 million is identified for Amtrak operating funding, down from $562 millionin FY11.

The Federal Transit Administration receives $10.6 billion in FY 2012, up 3% over FY11 funding levels. Increased funding was provided to the Formula and Bus Grant programs which will receive $8.3 billion, an $18 million increase. New Starts Capital Investment Grant Program receives $1.9 billion in FY12, up $358 million from FY11.

The bill includes legislative language limiting the federal share for FTA New Starts projects to 60%, besting the 50% limit proposed in the House version of the bill. The bill also retains language contained in the Senate version directing bus rapid transit (BRT) projects to be funded under the Bus and Bus Facilities program rather than the New Starts program, which covers rail transit projects, though some BRT projects will still be administered (but not funded) as part of the New Starts program.