WASHINGTON—In the strongest bi-partisan moves since President Trump’s election, Congress passed a spending agreement called an omnibus that is in stark contrast to President Trump’s 2018 budget – in which he proposed that transportation funds be slashed by the billions.
In the just-passed bill, Congress secured and even increased transportation funding, preventing the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, the elimination of long-distance train service, and a freeze on railway, road and bridge infrastructure upgrades.
One important spending increase was an additional $570,000 for the National Mediation Board; something SMART TD has been seeking to reduce the backlog of arbitration cases.
For our California members, the omnibus included $100 million in funding for the Caltrain electrification project. This means that construction—previously placed on hold by the Department of Transportation will move forward, with federal funds for Caltrain guaranteed until the end of FY2017.
For our Great Lakes pilot and flight attendant members the Essential Air Service (EAS) program for rural communities was fully funded, something President Trump’s budget also proposed to eliminate.
For our bus membership, federal funding for the Federal Transit Administration—slated by the administration for a major decrease—was increased by $236 million and $2.4 billion was included for transit Capital Investment Grants.
In addition, the omnibus spending provides a permanent solution to guarantee health care for nearly 22,000 retired union mine workers who have been impacted by the growing decline of coal production.
“This proposal, which had widespread support on both sides of the political aisle sends a clear message to the White House that killing transportation initiatives and slashing transportation funding is not supported by Congress – and is not in the best interest of transportation workers and our nation,” stated John Risch, SMART TD national legislative director.
Although this vote is a victory, we must remain vigilant and continue to contact our representatives to make it clear that investments in transportation are vital to our nation.
Please click on the link below to sign (and please share) this online petition to the White House asking the FTA to approve funding that has long been earmarked for San Francisco’s Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) a high-speed, electric commuter train system project:
The petition urges President Donald Trump to reverse Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s decision, which was to stop the project by placing $647 million in federal funding on hold. This transportation project has been years in the making and promises to replace Caltrain’s current diesel-fueled commuter trains with high-speed, electric commuter trains.
Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris of Calif. released the following joint statement: “This decision is incomprehensible and will cause delays and millions of dollars of additional costs that could jeopardize the entire project.”
President Trump’s repeated campaign promises centered on safeguarding American jobs, creating thousands of new jobs and upgrading and developing our infrastructure. If that is still true, Trump must allow this project to move forward, as Caltrain PCEP will create nearly 10,000 jobs, not only in California, but in other states as well, including Utah, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Please sign the petition and share it with your brothers and sisters of of all trades.
Railway Age reported that contractors on Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) agreed to extend the deadline for first day of construction from March 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017. This announcement was issued just days after the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that the execution of a $647 million funding FFGA (Full Funding Grant Agreement) is now on hold, and will remain on hold until President Trump decides which federal funds will go where in his budget proposal to Congress. When/if completed, the years-long project will culminate in a cleaner, more efficient, high-speed commuter rail system in the busy San Francisco corridor, as diesel commuter trains will be replaced by electric trains. However, if the funds are not released by June 30, the project may be derailed permanently. Read the complete article here.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is encouraging all transit members to submit their comments and ideas to the FTA to assist in their goal of preventing transit worker assault. “..the FTA is seeking public recommendations on how best to prevent and mitigate assaults, and to answer some of the key questions surrounding transit worker assault.” Click here to learn more and to leave your comments.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued the final rule for the Public Transportation Safety Programthat establishes procedural rules for FTA to administer a comprehensive safety program to improve the safety of federally-funded public transportation systems. The final rule formally adopts the Safety Management System (SMS) approach to safety as the basis of the FTA safety program.
“With today’s action, FTA continues its steady progress in establishing the regulatory framework needed to implement and strengthen our new and existing safety transit oversight and enforcement authorities,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers.
This rule also establishes procedural rules for the FTA to conduct inspections, investigations, audits and examinations of Chapter 53 grant recipients’ public transportation systems, withhold or direct the use of Federal transit funds, and issue directives.
FTA’s Office of Transit Safety and Oversight (TSO) will host webinars on Tuesday, August 30 from 2:00 – 3:00pm ET and Thursday, September 1 from 3:00 – 4:00pm ET to discuss the Public Transportation Safety Program Rule. Participants only need to register for one session. The webinar will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the rule’s provisions and ask questions related to its implementation.
USA Today reports that U.S. DOT Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx threatened to shut down the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA or D.C. Metro) if the company does not improve safety.
Foxx’s announcement comes after Metro employees refused DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) access to a tunnel following an explosion of a third-rail insulator last week.
As a result, the FTA issued a safety directive May 7 to WMATA requiring the agency to:
“take immediate action to reduce the risk of smoke and fire events, to enhance the exercise of its emergency preparedness program, to conduct an organization-wide safety stand-down to focus all departments on core safety protocols and procedures, and to make decisions based on safety rather than on operational demands.”
Click here to read FTA’s safety directive in its entirety.
Progressive Railroading reported that the Federal Transit Administration has chosen nine cities to receive technical assistance to promote economic development around local transit service. This assistance will include in-depth, multi-day visits and workshops. Read the entire story here.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced a final rule that significantly strengthens state safety oversight and enforcement authority to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents on rail transit systems.
“With the more rigorous and effective state safety oversight required by this final rule and federal law, transit systems across the nation will receive greater safety oversight with the aim of improving safety for passengers and transit system employees,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx “Greater investigatory and enforcement power combined with better training will give state safety oversight watchdogs sharper teeth to help rail transit agencies keep their systems safe.”
The final rule will officially be published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2016, and will take effect 30 days after publication. It applies to States where a rail transit system operates, and carries out several explicit Federal statutory requirements, including that a State must submit its State Safety Oversight (SSO) program to FTA for certification and that the designated SSO Agency must have financial and legal independence from the rail transit agencies it oversees.
In addition, the final rule requires that a State must ensure that the SSO Agency adopts and enforces relevant Federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority, and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within its jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO Agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must have proper training and certification.
“FTA has delivered exactly what Congress authorized: a stronger, more robust state safety oversight program with increased enforcement tools,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “States should act swiftly to come into compliance to provide a higher level of safety for their rail transit system riders and workers.”
Within three years of the effective date of this final rule, States with an operating rail transit system must have a SSO program certified by FTA. FTA has already certified two of the affected 30 States as being compliant: California and Massachusetts. Most of the remaining 28 States have also already taken some actions toward compliance with these critical safety requirements.
To assist in this effort, Congress has authorized a stable source of funds to the States for their use in meeting these new safety oversight obligations. The existing Federal SSO program regulations will remain in effect during the transition period and then be rescinded.
If a State is non-compliant after the three-year period, FTA may withhold Federal funds until its SSO program is certified. If a State fails to establish an SSO program, FTA is prohibited by law from obligating any Federal financial assistance to any entity in that state otherwise eligible to receive FTA program funding.
Strengthening the existing State Safety Oversight Program is one of four components of a comprehensive public transportation safety program Congress required FTA to establish in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act in 2012 and reauthorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015.
FTA is actively moving forward on the other three components as well. Interim provisions for the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program have been in effect since May 2015 and FTA is now reviewing comments received on the proposed rule which would make the interim provisions permanent. The National Public Transportation Safety Plan and the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan were both recently released and comments will be accepted through April 5, 2016. All four, plus other related rulemaking actions, will collectively establish the regulatory framework needed to implement and strengthen new and existing FTA safety oversight and enforcement authorities.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has launched a nationwide transit-oriented development (TOD) initiative to encourage development near transit systems that boosts the local economy; provides easy access to jobs and services; and creates compact, mixed-use, walkable communities. The initiative supports the Ladders of Opportunity Initiative of the President and the Secretary of Transportation.
“Our TOD initiative will help community leaders think about how investment in transit can bring prosperity into low- and moderate-income communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We’ve seen how investment in transit can lead to new housing stock, new jobs and new economic opportunities in areas that badly need them. To achieve results, we are offering to help local leaders create sound, equitable community-sensitive development plans.”
The National Public Transportation Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative focuses on supporting communities across the country. FTA has engaged Smart Growth America (SGA) to run the technical assistance and provide a variety of planning and analysis tools. Along with developing best practices and profiles of communities that have successfully implemented TOD, SGA will work on site with leaders in several communities to offer in-depth technical assistance tailored to local needs. The free technical assistance, which will be offered through a competitive process, will include planning for and managing economic development near transit through effective zoning and land use as well as expert advice on preserving affordable housing and securing advantageous commercial development, among other challenges.
“Transit-oriented development is critical to both the success of new transit projects and to the economy of the local communities they serve,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “What’s particularly great about TOD is that it encourages people to use transit to reach jobs, education, medical care, housing and the other vital services they need. Our TOD initiative will help communities that are less experienced in the latest development tools and real estate market strategies to create stronger neighborhoods.”
The City of Richmond, one of seven cities chosen last spring to be part of DOT’s LadderSTEP initiative that focuses on revitalization as part of future transportation projects, will be among the first communities to receive TOD technical assistance along its planned 7.6-mile bus rapid transit line. Richmond’s Pulse BRT project received a $24.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant in 2014.
Community leaders can apply for technical assistance at the project’s website. The site also will assemble the best information and tools to support TOD planning and deployment as well as create a network that will provide information on funding and training opportunities, on-demand research and analysis, and peer-to-peer meetings and mentoring on topics of shared concern. Community leaders interested in learning more about the new TOD technical assistance are invited to join SGA for a December 10 webinar.
WASHINGTON – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has recently accepted two reports from the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), a safety committee established by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and compromised of transit industry stakeholders.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today published detailed guidance to transit agencies on how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since the ADA became law in 1990, FTA has ensured that transit systems comply with the ADA’s provisions on public transportation, primarily through education and investigations of possible violations. To enhance understanding of the Act, the new circular offers a user-friendly, one-stop resource on its requirements.
“We have made great progress in advancing accessible public transportation, but we still have work to do,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx. “We must ensure that Americans of all ages and abilities can access our nation’s transportation system. Today’s guidance reinforces our commitment to full implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Public transit ridership increased 25 percent over the last 20 years, including a rise in the number of passengers with disabilities, according to DOT’s Beyond Traffic report. Transit agencies have made major capital investments to make nearly all of America’s busiest public transit stations accessible. Today, nearly all transit buses, light rail and heavy rail vehicles are ADA accessible, as well as two-thirds of rail transit stations.
“One of the important jobs we do at FTA is to ensure mobility for everyone, and this ADA Circular will help do just that,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “For people of all abilities and ages, public transportation provides a lifeline to jobs, education and medical care. We need to maintain these ladders of opportunity for all.”
With the 25th anniversary of the landmark legislation as a backdrop, the release of FTA’s ADA Circular represents a major milestone in assistance to the transit community. It thoroughly explains ADA requirements for public transit, providing real-life situations as examples of good practices for the transit industry to ensure accessible services for riders. The document does not amend or supersede the DOT ADA regulations; rather, it offers explanatory scenarios and sample templates, such as a rail station checklist for new construction and alterations.
FTA developed the ADA Circular in three phases because of the breadth of the regulations. Each chapter was submitted to the public for notice and comment in the Federal Register and went through a 60-day comment period.