Political/Transit- FTA – Congressional Testimony – Senate Banking Committee Hearing on MAP-21 Progress

Posted: February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

1/16/14

Progress Made Despite Fiscal Challenges

MAP-21, which took effect on October 1, 2012, authorizes $10.6 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 and $10.7 billion in FY 2014 for public transportation. FTA has made significant progress in implementing key provisions and providing guidance to states, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies. We have an active and engaged legislative implementation team and an aggressive timetable in place that helps to ensure that the American people can reap the benefits associated with investing in public transportation services that improve transportation equity, provide access to jobs and services, offer an efficient alternative to congested urban traffic, and stimulate economic development in cities and communities throughout the nation.

I discuss, below, several areas where FTA has made real progress to implement MAP-21. However, I fully recognize that much work and many challenges lie ahead. Chief among these challenges are significant annual funding constraints and the potential insolvency of the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund.

The funding constraints imposed by the full FY 2013 and the partial FY 2014 continuing resolutions, coupled with cuts imposed by sequestration—including a $5 million cut in our administrative budget—have hampered our ability to move implementation forward at an even more rapid pace. The cuts have, for instance, affected our ability to implement significant new safety authority and reduced our ability to conduct outreach and training with stakeholders. Every budget request under my stewardship has sought additional funding to allow for additional staffing at FTA to better address our core responsibilities. Congress has yet to provide those resources. Moreover, in FY 2013, FTA had more than 30 New Starts projects in the pipeline, but since that time, FTA has been unable to make new funding commitments to any of those projects for the first time in roughly 20 years. Consequently, for the first time, FTA was unable to keep its financial end of the bargain, cutting payments owed to communities with projects already under way, which potentially raises local costs as project sponsors and local governments seek to make up for the Federal government’s shortfall.

With respect to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, estimates of the account’s cash balance at the time MAP-21 was enacted were assumed to be sufficient through FY 2014. We have reason for concern as to whether this will be the case going forward. The U.S. Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Treasury are currently in the process of updating program outlay and revenue assumptions used to estimate trust fund balances as part of the President’s FY 2015 budget. These estimates will be important in determining whether the cash balance is sufficient through the remainder of the current authorization and will provide useful information on the cash balance needed beyond FY 2014. Once the President’s budget is transmitted to Congress, FTA and DOT will brief the Committee on the new estimates, upon request.

Despite such challenges, we have nevertheless achieved several significant milestones for implementing MAP-21, most notably with respect to safety; state of good repair needs; the capital investment grant program; and our new Emergency Relief Program. A summary of progress in these and other areas follows.

via FTA – Congressional Testimony – Senate Banking Committee Hearing on MAP-21 Progress.

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