Congress Knows Our Current State of Good Repair Needs
Unfortunately, Hampton Roads Transit leads the Commonwealth in having the oldest bus fleet. The average age of the fleet is 10 years, compared to the Federal Transit Administration’s recommendation of 7 years. The need for HRT to achieve and maintain a state of good repair is one of our key policy focuses when lobbying elected officials at all levels of government.
Last week, Joe Dillard from Hampton Roads Transit traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with congressional representatives and urge support for transit funding as part of the fiscal year 2018 federal budget. We are pleased that all of our Representatives and both Senators supported our efforts and voted in favor of the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill that President Trump signed last week. “The omnibus bill included much needed transportation funding,” Mr. Dillard noted.
The Federal Transit Administration was allocated $13.5 billion, up from its $12.3 billion previously authorized. Hampton Roads Transit has been a strong advocate for increasing funding for the Bus and Bus Facilities Program in particular. HRT relies on funds from this program to support State of Good Repair, like replacing old buses. Thankfully, an additional $400 million was allocated to this important program and HRT is ready to put any new funding we receive to good use.
The American Public Transportation Foundation offered this summary of the allocations made to the FTA:
“Overall, the bill provides about $13.5 billion in budgetary resources for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is an increase of more than $1 billion as compared to FY 2017 enacted levels. Programs funded by Mass Transit Account (MTA) of the Highway Trust Fund received $9.733 billion, as authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act for FY 2018. A handful of programs traditionally funded by the MTA also received an additional $834 million from the general fund, including $400 million for Bus and Bus Facilities grant programs, $400 million for State of Good Repair, and $30 million for High Density States. Of the Bus and Bus Facilities funding, $209.1 million is allocated to formula grants, $161.45 for competitive grants, and $29.45 for no or low emissions grants.
The Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program was appropriated $2.645 billion, up from $2.413 billion in FY 2017. This total includes more than $1.5 billion for New Starts, almost $716 million for Core Capacity projects, and almost $401 million for Small Starts. The bill
also contains strong, legislative language to ensure the future of the CIG program. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) received $150 million, as they have for the past several years.”
Please consider reaching out to your federal elected officials and thanking them for supporting transit in the federal budget.