Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Associations Educating Members, Urge Members to Contact Congress

Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA has created Reauthorization Central, which contains the different proposed bills in Congress, summaries and CTAA analysis of the legislation, key Congressional committees' documents, Department of Transportation responses and the schedule of possible Congressional actions. Letters to Congress with comments on the funding provisions also are posted, including a joint letter signed on by CTAA, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Reconnecting America, and the American Public Transportation Association.

American Public Transportation Association

APTA is strongly opposing the reauthorization proposal in the House.
The bill eliminates the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and creates the new Alternative Transportation Account that would provide funding for public transportation, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Control (CMAQ) program, and several other programs. Dedicated funding for the new account has not yet been identified.
APTA calls for a predictable and dedicated source of funding. It is supporting a bi-partisan effort in the House to restore transit's funding source. "It is not yet clear if the Rules Committee will allow a vote on this amendment. APTA is urging a full floor vote on this amendment prior to final passage."

APTA has also prepared talking points to use when communicating with members of Congress. These include the point that "[t]he Ways and Means proposal to fund public transportation investment with a one-time appropriation would leave transit without any funding source when those funds run out in 2016."
[Portland light rail near the convention center.]

Planning Organizations at Stake

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations

AMPO and APTA are jointly recommending to Congress that the reauthorization retain all exixting metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), regardless of population size.
Removing the decision-making authority from the local level will reduce the voice of the local government, transit agencies, its citizens, and people in the region. Citizens elect their local public officials to reflect the unique nature of their region, and removing the MPO will only increase the distance between the average citizen and the policy-maker.
AMPO and APTA also oppose the 200,000-population threshold for all MPOs as eight states would potentially be left without one unless the Secretary grants approval that they possess the technical capacity to complete the planning requirements. Some that have served as local planning conveners since 1962 would be eliminated.

National Association of Counties
NACo is concerned about reauthorization proposals that fail to maintain planning organizations.
MPOs between 50,000-200,000 would face an uncertain future and are no longer guaranteed a role in the planning process; efforts to enhance the planning role for include rural regions under 50,000 were not successful; the Surface Transportation Program underwent some changes that may not be beneficial to local governments; and funding for the Transportation Enhancement program appears to be no longer mandatory.
[Portland's Amtrak station.]

Amalgamated Transit Union
ATU is advocating in favor of federal operating assistance for transit systems.
Now more than ever we must urge Members of Congress to do the right thing for our communities by voting yes on the amendment to adopt the original “100 Bus” language which also includes targeted and temporary operating assistance for the nation’s medium size and large transit systems which are also in the midst of a mobility crisis.

Other groups, such as Transportation for America, PolicyLink, and the League of American Bicyclists, among others, are advocating for improved transit funding and multi-modal street networks.

As we go to press, there are House members switching sides to back transit and the Senate is likely to put off a vote.
[San Luis Obispo Amtrak station.]

Local Stories

Two of the biggest logistical concerns for working parents are transportation and child care. One transit agency is doing both. To attract good employees who can work the nontraditional hours that transit and other industries demand, Prairie Transit in Spearfish, S.D., "opened its own state-licensed child care facility right in its new transit center." The article, Community care: Day care centers draw workers to towns, appeared in the Rapid City Journal.

Indianapolis, Ind. - APTA reports that IndyGo performed well during the Super Bowl festivities. The transit agency had a “Know Before You Go” campaign to alert riders to temporary route changes and offered free rides Feb. 2-5, funded by a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant.
Local fixed route ridership surpassed expectations throughout the entire detour period with a 39 percent increase over average ridership: a total of 325,212 rides over 10 days. IndyGo operated additional buses to accommodate the crowds on fixed route service, reaching a peak of 28 extra buses assisting routes on Feb. 4.

APTA's news also highlights another story, this from Cincinnati, where the Everybody Rides Metro Foundation, administered by Metro in Cincinnati, provided more than a million free rides in the past four years to low-income workers traveling to and from work, job training, and related activities. "Almost 100 agencies partner with the foundation, including Talbert House, Freestore Foodbank, St. Vincent de Paul, Lighthouse Youth Services, and Cincinnati Works."

Hi-Tech Town

Boston transit riders have hi-tech ways to get real-time information and engage in public participation. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is texting real-time information to bus riders. Just the stop identification number and the telephone number are all that is needed. And if you have a smartphone, life is even better because Boston boasts more than 40 apps for transit. Helps having lots of smart, techie college students around. The MBTA is also considering service cuts and fare increases. Like the wired town that it is, Boston's residents are commenting publicly - on twitter. That meeting is so last century. Both stories via the TransitWire.

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