In the U.S. Senate, mass transit issues are handled by the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. (Passenger rail, however, is handled by the Commerce Committee.)
As you would imagine from the title, the Committee has a broad set of issues to deal with: banking, insurance, financial markets, securities, housing, urban development and mass transit, international trade and finance, and economic policy.
The Committee plans to tackle a number of transit related issues in 2013-14, including strengthening federal public transportation programs, overseeing implementation of MAP-21, and preparing for the next surface transportation authorization. Most of the issues will be heard first in the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. Here is the outline of topics, according to a briefing paper issued by Committee Chair Tim Johnson in mid-February:
- The growing demand for public transportation as economic recovery strengthens and the benefits of transit service including congestion relief, job creation, reduced fuel consumption, environmental improvements, and better daily travel for millions of Americans;
- The role of federal transit investment and the need to ensure the long-term solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund and the Mass Transit Account;
- Rural public transportation needs and related issues concerning mobility in rural states and on tribal lands, including the delivery of new formula funding for tribal transit;
- Improving public transportation for seniors and individuals with disabilities by seeking new resources for specialized transportation and identifying additional strategies to promote the coordination of transportation services across federal programs;
- Public transportation safety, including implementation of the comprehensive federal transit safety framework created by MAP-21;
- The condition of public transportation assets, on-going efforts to address the significant backlog of maintenance and repairs at transit agencies, and oversight of new asset management practices required by MAP-21;
- Improving project delivery, including oversight of changes in MAP-21 to the “New Starts” program for construction of significant capital projects that expand public transportation service; and
- Public transportation emergency relief following an emergency or major disaster, including federal assistance for transit recovery in New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy.