Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Day for Transportation with Significant Investment in Rail

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now passed by Congress, the public transportation industry stands ready to help Americans get to work on public transit projects nationwide.

"This groundbreaking legislation will give people expanded travel options, while creating or supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs," said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President William W. Millar. "Setting the course for years to come, this legislation will begin to craft a greater intermodal transportation system that our nation desperately needs."

The economic recovery legislation provides $8.4 billion for investments in public transportation projects. Of the $8.4 billion provided for public transit, $6.9 billion will be distributed to public transit systems through the Federal Transit Administration's formula program that is already in place. The remaining $1.5 billion will be available as grants for new major projects and modernizing the nation's urban rail systems.

The legislation also includes for the first time, a significant investment of $9.3 billion for intercity passenger rail, including $8 billion for high speed rail corridors and $1.3 billion for Amtrak. Additionally, there is $1.5 billion for a new, intermodal discretionary program that can be used for public transportation, highways, bridges, freight rail, and ports. Separately, an additional $150 million for rail and transit security grants is provided to help make our public transportation systems more secure.

"With public transportation ridership at modern record levels and local and state transit ballot initiatives resoundingly approved by voters, the American people have demonstrated that they want more public transit services," said Millar. "Congress is listening to the public and this legislation is responding to the public will."

Pointing out that Congress also included tax incentives to encourage transit commute benefits at the same level as parking benefits, Millar said, "We are very pleased that Congress, for the first time, has made the transit commute benefit equal to the parking benefit, which is currently $230 per month. This action will provide a tax-free way for employers to encourage their employees to use energy-efficient, fuel-saving public transportation."

"Investing in public transportation and intercity and high speed rail is part of the solution to helping build a stronger economy," said Millar. "Passage of this legislation is a win-win for American workers who need jobs and for the millions of people who take public transportation and passenger rail."

APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning, design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; and state associations and departments of transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical public transportation services and products. APTA members serve more than 90 percent of persons using public transportation in the United States and Canada.

SOURCE American Public Transportation Association


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