Northeast Passenger Transportation Conference Panel Discussion SAFETEA-LU: Successes and Future Challenges


03-28-07

Administrator James Simpson
Federal Transit Administration
Northeast Passenger Transportation Conference Panel Discussion
SAFETEA-LU: Successes and Future Challenges
Providence, Rhode Island
March 28, 2007

It is a pleasure to be here on behalf of President Bush and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

Today, we are going to discuss the successes and future challenges of the Safe, Efficient, Flexible Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
 
In addition to major changes in program requirements, the passage of SAFETEA-LU in August 2005 required the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to initiate five new programs, develop 17 regulations, 19 reports, and dozens of program guidance documents. SAFETEA-LU also required FTA to enhance transparency in our program activities, with a requirement to seek public comment on almost all guidance documents. All of this was to be accomplished with little to no increase in staffing levels.

In the two years since its passage, FTA has witnessed numerous accomplishments through SAFETEA-LU.

First and foremost, the number of products delivered under SAFETEA-LU is ever-increasing. To date, FTA has published 20 key deliverables, including four Final Rules, two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, as well as seven final programmatic guidance documents and seven Congressional reports. Implementation has commenced on all new FTA programs, including the New Freedom, Tribal Transit, Alternative Transportation in the Parks and Public Lands, Alternative Analysis, and Small Starts programs.
 
In addition, FTA has initiated four pilot programs, including the Public Private Partnership Pilot Program, the Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Pilot Program, the National Fuel Cell Bus Technology Development program, and the Debt Service Reserve Pilot program.
 
Second, SAFETEA-LU is responsible for increased collaboration and outreach within our administration. FTA has released more than 25 documents on the Federal Register to solicit public comment in the development of new policies and guidance materials. FTA has implemented an outreach and communications strategy that has included conducting or participating in more than 100 listening sessions and providing timely updates to the SAFETEA-LU Implementation section of FTA's web site.
 
Finally, stakeholders have been publicly complementary of FTA’s SAFETEA-LU implementation efforts. In testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, both the General Accountability Office (GAO) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) applauded FTA’s implementation of SAFETEA-LU.

ATPA’s President, Bill Millar stated, “I commend the Federal Transit Administration for acting expeditiously in implementing rulemakings and carrying out other activities required under SAFETEA-LU. The law calls for FTA to implement a significant number of programs, rulemakings, notices and other measures, and the agency has made every effort to do so in a timely and open and transparent way. FTA has conducted workshops, participated in an APTA Webinar, and been on panels at APTA conferences and meetings to explain SAFETEA-LU programs and policies. We very much appreciate FTA's efforts in this regard, and we look forward to continuing the good working relationship we now have with the agency.”

Furthermore, GAO testified that, “Most of the project sponsors and industry representatives we interviewed told us that they appreciated FTA’s efforts to solicit their feedback and to encourage an open discussion about the proposed changes,” and “Members of the transit community… have stated that they have been pleased with the review and comment process.”

We at FTA are tremendously proud of what SAFETEA-LU has achieved for transit today, and what it will continue to accomplish for transit tomorrow. Let us continue to innovate and build on the recent successes of SAFETEA-LU so that any future challenges can be dealt with economically and expediently, with an eye toward safe, efficient and flexible transportation for our nation.

Thank You.