Monday, July 23, 2012

Reauthorization Responses and Explanations

What to make of the new MAP-21 transportation law? The transportation reauthorization law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, otherwise known as MAP-21, is Public Law No: 112-141. Click here for the full text. Here is commentary and explanations from various organizations and transportation commentators.

Federal Transit Administration
FTA rolls out a new webpage devoted to MAP-21 information, including illustrative apportionment data for several programs. 

Amalgamated Transit Union
ATU commented that the new law "fails mass transit, riders and workers, and will lead to more fare increases and service cuts – a hidden tax increase on riders who can least afford it." ATU calls the law a "death blow for public transportation." ATU is also focusing on the transit funding cuts and what that means for bus drivers.

ATU is commencing an "I'm in" campaign "to elect pro-transit and pro-Labor candidates." Information is available on the ATU Facebook page.

American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials
AASHTO congratulates Congress on reaching an agreement for a new transportation law. AASHTO's press release states:
Without this legislation, drastic cutbacks would have been necessary due to a revenue shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. There are many things to like in this bill, including providing funding for surface transportation programs at current levels and extending user fees and the Highway Trust Fund through Fiscal Year 2016. We also are pleased that the legislation includes needed reforms to stretch taxpayer dollars with expanded innovative finance, improved efficiency with program consolidation, streamlined project delivery, and improved accountability with performance measures. 

[Kansas City, MO, BRT "MAX" stop at the public library.]

American Bus Association
ABA praises Congress for passing MAP-21 and offers a summary of provisions pertinent to motor carrier companies. ABA observes that the new law:
[p]rovides for greater flexibility in rural transportation programs. Changes should enable bus operators to serve more rural Americans by offering affordable, clean transportation options while connecting isolated rural areas throughout the country to larger communities.
ABA also notes that MAP-21 provides for "a study to examine the benefits of public transportation companies contracting with private carriers to transport people."

American Public Health Association
In its latest Transportation and Public Health E-Newsletter, APHA recognized the "hard work helped to preserve funding and eligibility for some important programs that support walking and biking, as well as public transportation programs." However, the final version of MAP-21 was considered far from APHA's vision of "a forward-looking 21st century transportation bill that provides equitable transportation choices and bolsters public health." Before the bill passed, APHA joined in a letter to conference committee members that opposed changes to public participation requirements.

APHA provides links to America Bikes' comparison of SAFETEA-LU and MAP-21 and information about the Rails to Trails Conservancy webinars about MAP-21 and transportation enhancements

American Public Transportation Association
APTA congratulates President Obama and Congress for passing a bipartisan transportation bill. "[T]he bill includes improvements to keep our systems in a state of good repair; streamlines delivery of public transit projects; provides funding for new start projects and for a bus replacement and a bus facility program.  MAP21 provides for stable funding for public transportation for twenty-seven months and will run through September 2014. "

APTA issued an estimate of urban apportionments and state-by-state distributions under MAP-21. APTA announces a webinar on July 27, 2012 with key congressional committee staff from the House and Senate who wrote the transit provisions of the recently enacted surface transportation authorization bill, MAP-21.

[Schedule and arrival time information at a BRT "MAX" stop in Kansas City, MO.]

Association for Commuter Transportation 
ACT issues a summary of MAP-21, with commentary about spending reductions and increases, the change in the definition of carpool, use of vanpool fares as local match, and the requirement that all CMAQ projects will have a 20 percent local match. ACT also hosts a MAP-21 Resource Center with a summary, legislative information, links to federal agency resources, and planning information.

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations  
AMPO provides a state-by-state breakdown of funding in the reauthorization. AMPO explains what MAP-21 means for metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), stating that the law brings "two years of funding certainty at slightly higher levels of spending than in 2012.  MAP-21 reduces the number of highway and transit programs and does not include any earmarks." AMPO notes that MAP-21 brings performance measures requirements and expands use of federal funds for transit operations.  What was not significantly changed for the MPO community were policy in transportation planning and the population threshold for new MPOs, which remains at 50,000.

Most notable among the changes to transportation law, according to AMPO, are the changes in time periods for states to reimburse MPOs (down to 15 days), linking transportation improvement plans (TIPs) to performance targets, and targets that address national performance measures in coordination with the State and providers of public transportation.

AMPO provides detailed legislative information and plans to provide more details soon on its website.

Community Transportation Association of America
"Against what seemed to be insurmountable odds, MAP-21 emerges with two years of funding with increases in overall transit investment for both FY 2013 and 2014," CTAA's message reads. It is pleased with the new Transportation Emergency Relief Program (TERP) and with the focus on safety. The association observes that the funding sources are not a sustainable solution. 

MAP-21 allows for operating expense funding for transit agencies in communities above 200,000 in population and with fleets of 100 or fewer buses. The "[p]rogram that funds transportation specifically for seniors and people with disabilities must select projects that are included in a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan. The plan must be developed and approved through a process that includes seniors and people with disabilities and is coordinated to the maximum extent possible with transportation services assisted by other federal departments and agencies." CTAA observes that rural and tribal funding is increasing.

[MAX low-floor BRT bus near Board of Trade and Plaza area of Kansas City, MO.]

National Association of Development Organizations 
NADO “made substantial progress in promoting Regional/Rural Transportation Planning Organizations (RTPOs),” which NADO points out are defined in MAP-21. Also notable for NADO is the requirement for states to “cooperate” with nonmetropolitan local officials (or if applicable, through RTPOs) in carrying out the planning sections of the bill and in the development of the Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plan.” NADO notes additional consulting requirements on its webpage summarizing MAP-21’s significance for rural planning organizations.

National Complete Streets Coalition
Though disappointed that a complete streets provision did not survive the final passage of MAP-21 (observing that it had received bipartisan support), the National Complete Streets Coalition finds a positive note that the Highway Safety Improvement Program language includes "a new, more comprehensive definition of street users that is based on Complete Streets language." This allows for measures to protect pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. "The term ‘road user’ means a motorist, passenger, public transportation operator or user, truck driver, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian, including a person with disabilities."

The coalition links to responses from walking and biking organizations.

Transport Politic offers opinions on the general political equation that the law calculates regarding funding, transit and highways.

[London Underground.]

State Funding Developments

National Conference of State Legislatures
NCSL offers Major State Transportation Legislation 2011, a report with funding legislation and changes from all 50 states, including measures that did not pass.  

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