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Stimulating Transit

Fears that the U.S. Senate would gut the stimulus money for transit in the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" appear to have been unfounded. The Senate is preparing to vote on bill that essentially maintains the House-passed funding levels. The Senate final vote is expected by Tuesday, with the House and Senate conference starting soon after.

According to the American Public Transportation Association, "Transit funding is expected to remain at $8.4 billion and high-speed passenger rail funding will remain at $2 billion. Transportation programs in the Senate bill are funded as follows:

* $8.4 billion, urban and rural transit formula;
* $27 billion, highway formula;
* $5.5 billion, intermodal/discretionary program;
* $2 billion, high-speed rail corridor investments;
* $250 million, intercity passenger rail grant program;
* $850 million, Amtrak;
* $60 million, ferryboat discretionary grants;

Last week Sacramento Regional Transit General Manager Mike Wiley explained the importance of the stimulus package to RT during his monthly web chat.

"RT has been working closely with our funding partners, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, other transit agencies, and Caltrans, to identify projects that will benefit from the economic stimulus program. These projects are intended to provide improvements in our light rail and bus operations, improve transit user information systems, and help us accelerate service improvements such as limited stop (express) services. We are still unsure about how much funding will be provided, but RT is ready to ‘hit the ground running’ when the funding becomes available. We anticipate that the stimulus package will be signed by President Obama before February 15."

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