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Oral Statement of FTA Therese McMillan to House Highways & Transit Subcommittee on Implementation of MAP-21 and Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request for Surface Transportation

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MARCH 12, 2014

Chairman Petri [PEE-TRY] and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for inviting me to discuss the Federal Transit Administration’s progress implementing MAP-21 and the Administration’s priorities for next year’s budget and the upcoming reauthorization.

MAP-21 codifies some of President Obama’s highest priorities for strengthening the nation’s public transportation systems at a time when transit ridership is at its highest level since 1956—with almost 10.7 billion trips taken in 2013, according to APTA’s latest figures.

As we have often said, MAP-21 gave us the right priorities at the right time—and we’re grateful to you for that.

I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on the issues that are important to our riders and to us—particularly given the challenge of the law’s two-year timeframe for addressing its provisions.

For example, at a time when our nation faces a serious $86 billion-dollar transportation infrastructure deficit, MAP-21 creates a more needs-based state-of-good-repair formula program for fixed guideway systems.

We’re in the process of establishing a national Transit Asset Management System to ensure that all our grantees adopt a strategic and individual approach for managing their capital assets. And we’ll hold them accountable for leveraging all available resources to bring their systems into a state of good repair.

We’re reviewing comments on our landmark advanced notice of a proposed rulemaking, issued last fall, emphasizing the need for asset management and safety to go hand-in-hand.

We’re also working closely with state safety oversight agencies to help them get on course to put a stronger and more consistent safety oversight regime in place.

I assure you we remain sensitive to concerns about how we implement our new authority in the safety arena; this is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

We’ve also made strides, under MAP-21, to help our grant programs work better, and make better use of taxpayer dollars.

For instance, we’ve issued, and will continue to issue, new regulations and guidance to accelerate project delivery, streamline the NEPA process, and help our communities build the transit systems they need, more quickly and efficiently than ever.

MAP-21 has set us on the right path—but there is much more to be done.

As President Obama said recently, “In today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.”

That is why the President is seeking a 63 percent increase in FTA’s budget for next year over this year’s enacted level.

This would provide us an additional $6.8 billion dollars

  • to strengthen transit safety oversight;
  • bring our nation’s bus and rail transit infrastructure into a state of good repair;
  • and provide new and expanded transit systems in many communities.

Our request includes $2.5 billion dollars to support construction of major capital rail and bus projects around the nation—and bring relief to existing transit corridors that are at or near capacity.

These projects create thousands of good jobs and give communities the transportation choices they need to access jobs, education, health care, and other vital services.

I would also highlight we are seeking nearly $14 billion dollars in formula funds to help our grantees get the job done right by

  • making needed investments in maintenance and repair;
  • modernizing bus and railcar fleets;
  • and strengthening safety.

As part of this request, we seek a $5.1 billion-dollar increase above our current funding level to support strategic “fix it first” investments to help bring our nation’s rail transit infrastructure into a state of good repair and replace aging buses that have literally logged millions of miles.

We also recognize how important transit has become in rural communities and on tribal lands, where there are now more than fourteen hundred operators providing more than 140 million trips annually. We are seeking over $600 million dollars next year to support continued demand from these communities.

Finally, I will note that we are seeking $60 million dollars for research and training activities that will enable us to test and implement new technologies that make transportation work better and smarter—while also helping a new generation of workers find jobs in the transportation sector.

Our budget request is an integral part of the President’s robust, four-year, $302 billion-dollar reauthorization package that will improve the operation and condition of the nation’s surface transportation systems—including public transit.

By targeting funding and implementing innovative reforms, this proposal will improve the way government operates, will ensure resources reach areas of need, and will create ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony and I would be happy to answer any questions.

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