New House Transportation Proposal Would Reform Transit Programs

A North Central Montana BioDiesel bus (image - opportunitylinkmt.org / Helmbrecht Photography)

House Transportation Chair John Mica intends to release text of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs” proposal perhaps as soon as Friday.  Action is tentatively scheduled for February 2. See “Federal Transportation Bill Moving in House” for more details, and “5 Big Proposed Changes in the New House Transportation Bill Proposal” for more information.

Regarding transit, a summary that leaked out Monday indicates the proposal

“focuses on federal transit policies and programs that most effectively contribute to public transportation services that meet the needs of commuters, transit-dependent individuals, and occasional transit riders.”

Here are some more details from the summary:

Private Sector Partnering

  • Removes current barriers that prevent the private sector from offering public transportation services
  • Provides incentives to vanpools and intercity bus operators to participate in federally-supported transit services.
  • Requires that private intercity and charter bus operators be given reasonable access to federally-funded transit facilities.
  • Encourages and rewards public-private partnerships when building new rail transit systems.

Focuses on Formula Programs

  • Repeals discretionary programs that are unpredictable and not transparent, and focuses available funding on formula programs that provide stable and predictable funding to states and local transit agencies.
  • Increases the percentage of available formula funds for transits programs that benefit suburban and rural areas, and programs that support transit services for the elderly, disabled, and transit-dependent.

Streamlines and Simplifies

  • Consolidates and simplifies human service transportation programs from three separate programs to one.
  • Streamlines the New Starts and Small Starts competitive grant program, cutting project development time in half.

Improves Transit Safety

  • Strengthens the rail transit safety oversight program without creating a new federal transit safety bureaucracy.