Transit Briefs: APTA, MARTA

APTA and 45 industry partners are seeking at least $10 billion more in public transit funding plus dedicated high speed rail investment in the Build Back Better Act, pursuant to S. Con. Res. 14. In joint letters dated Aug. 30, they requested the support of Secretary Buttigieg and funding provisions from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.); Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

“Providing this additional $10 billion of public transit funding will honor the commitment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework agreed upon by President Biden and Senate Republicans on June 24, 2021,” the coalition of national associations—representing public transit, high speed rail, labor, environmental, local government, mobility and construction interests—wrote in both letters (download below). “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework included an additional $49 billion of new investment for public transit. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), as passed by the Senate, includes $39 billion of new investment for public transit. We urge Congress to honor the agreed-upon Framework funding levels and provide at least $10 billion of additional public transit funding in the reconciliation bill. We also urge Congress to provide significant, dedicated funding to construct high speed rail in the United States. Investments in both of these funding streams must include strong labor protections for the workers who will build, operate, and maintain these systems.”

Beth Osborne, Transportation for America

“The bipartisan group of Senators and the White House agreed to boost transit funding by $49 billion in the deal they proudly touted,” said Transportation for America Director Beth Osborne, who signed the letters along with the Railway Supply Institute and Rail Passengers Association, among others. “But they dropped $10 billion, abandoning their own deal for no reason. Now it is up to the House to restore this funding which will be essential to getting people back to jobs and to essential services and addressing our climate goals.”

Greg Regan, TTD, AFL-CIO

“Public transportation and high-speed rail systems connect working families to new opportunities and support economic growth in local and regional communities,” said fellow signatory Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD). “For millions of working Americans, access to a reliable, safe bus, subway, or rail line can be life changing. Bold investments in these systems—and the good jobs they help create and sustain—are central to the president’s Build Back Better agenda.”

The House on Aug. 24 passed a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint and allowed for a vote by Sept. 27 on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The MARTA Board of Directors Business Management Committee’s resolution to support small, disadvantaged and minority-owned banks with COVID relief-act deposits will be considered by the full Board on Sept. 9.

The move was prompted by the Fulton County (Ga.) Board of Commissioners’ approval of similar legislation in June, resulting in a $10 million investment with two local minority-owned financial institutions.

MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker

“This investment will ultimately benefit the people in the communities MARTA serves by making more money available at minority-owned banks for small business or home loans,” MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker explained.

“The Fulton County legislation was the catalyst for this opportunity, and MARTA will work to expand it to disadvantaged and minority-owned banks in our partner jurisdictions that meet our investment policy guidelines,” MARTA Board Chair Rita Scott said.

MARTA’s current Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal is 23%, which it “regularly exceeds when rewarding Federal Transit Administration-assisted contracts.” The transit agency has awarded $269 million to DBEs the last three fiscal years, and encourages its vendors to use minority-owned financial institutions.

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