News & Media
Vol. 5, No. 3March 29, 2007
In This Issue …
- Raynham Council Looks to Voters to End Debate
- Georgia Considers Asking Voters to Determine Transportation Funding
- Americans took 10.1 Billion Trips on Public Transportation Last Year
- Democrats Seek to Equalize Transit Benefit
- FTA Fiscal Year 2007 Apportionments and Allocations Released
- Register Now for the 2007 Transit Initiatives Conference
Raynham Council Looks to Voters to End Debate
IS THE STOUGHTON EXTENSION INEVITABLE?
The township council of Raynham, MA voted earlier this month to place three nonbinding transportation related questions on the ballot of the April 28 annual town election. The three questions are intended to gauge how voters feel about the proposed MBTA commuter-rail extension from Stoughton to Fall River and New Bedford.
Gov. Deval Patrick has requested that Transportation Secretary Benard Cohen develop a plan and schedule for the Stoughton extension by April 4 that includes both cost and impact. However there has been an ongoing debate among the town council about whether they should fight this proposed extension. Now the council is turning to the voters to advise if they should continue to fight this battle.
Raynham voters will be asked if they favor the Stoughton extension that would run through Easton, Raynham and Taunton before splitting into two lines in Berkley and then continuing on to Fall River and New Bedford; if they oppose the extension; or if they oppose the extension, but feel that construction is inevitable.
If voters feel the project is inevitable, then the town would focus its efforts on minimizing the impact to residential and business abutters, improving traffic circulation within the town and insuring that the rail passes under Route 138.
For more information on 2007 transportation ballot measures
Georgia Considers Asking Voters to Determine Transportation Funding
LEGISLATORS MULL OVER REGIONAL SALES TAX REFERENDA
Georgia legislators are considering two proposals aimed at asking voters to raise sales tax to fund transportation investment. One measure would amend the state constitution to allow for a statewide vote on a 10-year, 1-cent statewide sales tax estimated to raise about $2.2 billion a year. Projects would be selected and managed by a newly created entity.
A competing plan, promoted by a coalition of business groups and livability advocates, would pay for a mix of transportation projects in metro Atlanta with a one-cent regional sales tax approved by a referendum. HB 434 would allow contiguous counties in metro Atlanta, or elsewhere in the state, to form self-taxing districts exclusively for transportation purposes. If voters approve the tax and the plan on how to spend it, sales taxes within the district could be increased by up to a penny or gas taxes could be raised by as much as 10 percent.
Georgia joins a number of other states considering allowing regional or local special option sales taxes to cover transportation costs. Similar tax legislation is pending in North Carolina and Virginia, and proposed legislation allowing a Boise-area tax district to be considered by voters by narrowly defeated in an Idaho legislative committee. Proposals to raise various taxes and fees are also under consideration in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and elsewhere
For more information on 2007 transportation ballot measures
Americans took 10.1 Billion Trips on Public Transportation Last Year
PUBLIC TRANSIT USE IS UP 30 PERCENT SINCE 1995
In early March, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced that Americans took 10.1 billion trips on local public transportation in 2006 – the first time in 49 years. Over the last decade, public transportation’s growth rate outpaced the growth rate of the population and the growth rate of vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s highways.
Public transit use is up 30 percent since 1995. That is more than double the growth rate of the population (12 percent) and higher than the growth rate for the vehicle miles traveled on our roads (24 percent) during that same period. In 2006, public transit ridership grew 2.9 percent over 2005. To put the 10.1 billion public transportation trips in perspective, transit trips outnumber domestic airline trips by 15 to one.
Public transportation is a proven way to meet our nation’s goals,” said APTA’s President William Millar. “As Congress looks to find ways to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and reduce emissions causing global warming, we call on them to increase investment and include incentives to encourage further use of public transportation.”
- Atlanta , GA- From July to December 2006, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) passenger counts grew by 7.2% and passenger revenue increased by 3.8% over the same period last year St. Louis, MO, In the St. Louis region, Metro’s ridership increased 7.87 percent from 2005 to 2006.
- Salt Lake City, UT- The number of trips taken on Salt Lake City's light rail rose 14% in 2006 to a record. The rising demand led the Utah Transit Authority to buy 29 used rail cars from San Jose, Calif. Officials haven't had time even to paint the new cars that have gone into service. Instead, they plastered stickers over the old labeling to get the cars on the rails as soon as possible.
- San Francisco, CA- The number of trips on the Bay Area Rapid Transit train system also rose to a record last year. BART also has been increasing the number of cars, lengthening trains in the system.
To view APTA’s comprehensive ridership data.
Democrats Seek to Equalize Transit Benefit
LEGISLATION WOULD INCREASE TRANSIT COMMUTE BENEFIT
Earlier this month Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced new legislation "Commuter Benefits Equity Act of 2007" (H.R. 1475) which would increase the transit commute benefit to equalize it with the parking benefit. Identical legislation (S. 712) has been introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) indicating that there is much interest in the 110th Congress to equalize the tax commute benefit.
Currently commuters can receive up to $110 per month in transit benefits, but the monthly parking benefit is $215
"Establishing parity between commuter benefits and parking benefits will provide American workers with an incentive to utilize transit for their commute to work," said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). "Enactment of this legislation will help ease congestion, improve air quality, and reduce dependency on foreign oil. It also makes sense for employers who can use it as an effective employment recruitment and retention tool."
H.R. 1475 is currently under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
For more transportation news.
FTA Fiscal Year 2007 Apportionments and Allocations Released
TRANSPORTATION FUNDED AT AUTHORIZED LEVELS
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has issued the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Apportionments and Allocations Notice. The notice provides specific details regarding how the $8.975 billion will be distributed for federal transit programs under the FY 2007 Continuing Appropriations Resolution (P.L. 110-5, H. J. Res 20), which the president signed on February 15. The resolution, a spending bill that completes all unfinished FY 2007 appropriations bills including the FY 2007 Transportation Appropriations bill, was approved by Congress on Feb 14th. The inclusion of $8.975 billion for transit programs is the same level authorized by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, P.L. 109-59). This was exciting news for Transportation Advocates because most domestic federal programs did not receive an increase and instead had funding frozen at FY 2006 levels, but transit and highway programs were spared from the freeze.
FTA was given the authority under the continuing resolution to allocate and distribute all FY 2007 New Starts/Small Starts funds, and the agency received similar discretion to allocate just less than half of the $901 million of Bus and Bus Facilities and Clean Fuels grant funds after SAFETEA-LU earmarks are honored. FTA was granted this authority because the FY 2007 continuing resolution contained no earmarks. The new Democratic leadership of the 110th Congress has agreed to establish new restrictions on earmark requests that are included in FY 2008 bills.
FTA did not indicate in the Apportionments Notice how those funds will be distributed for New Starts/Small Starts projects. FTA did give details regarding a selection process for $12 million in Alternatives Analysis funds that were not earmarked by SAFETEA-LU.
View the full notice
Register Now for the 2007 Transit Initiatives Conference
REGISTER ONLINE NOW!
Austin, Texas – June 10-12, 2007
Downtown Austin Marriott Courtyard