CTAI Blog

House Appropriations Committee Releases FY12 Transportation Funding Bill

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The House Appropriations FY2012 Transportation Funding Bill was released today. The amount appropriated for state and local bus grants is an estimated 37% decrease from the current funding level ($5.2 billion FY2012 compared to $8.3 billion in FY2011).

As a state that relies heavily on federal transportation funding, the communities in Idaho will be deeply impacted by the proposed cut to our public transportation systems. This decrease will lead to severe reductions in transportation services for many individuals across the state and will equate to a loss of thousands of jobs. With high gas prices, a slow economy, and increased ridership, now is not the time to implement cuts to the public transportation systems in Idaho.

We have asked Congressmen Simpson and Labrador to continue to work for a transportation appropriation bill that will put Americans back to work, provide businesses with relief from the costs of congestion and the insecurity of unreliable, inadequate infrastructure. And,we have encouraged them to use their leadership to move forward a bill that increases public transportation investment or at the very least, maintains current funding levels.

It is critical for you to contact Congressman Simpson and Congressman Labrador to help them understand what a 37% decrease in funding would look like for citizens in Idaho. And, to encourage them to support a higher formula level with a new, multi-year authorization bill. You can find the contact information for the Idaho Congressional Delegation through the respective links below:

Congressman Simpson: http://simpson.house.gov/Contact/  

Congressman Labrador: http://labrador.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=3  


-Heather Wheeler, CTAI Executive Director

New ways to save, when driving alone is the only option...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

May in Motion was a call to encourage individuals to ditch their single occupancy vehicle and ride the bus, walk, bike, or carpool. My personal May in Motion challenge was to carpool and take the bus once a week, when the children were taken to piano by their dad. My success was great for carpooling, but I never quite made it on the bus.

As parents, it is hard to leave the car behind, particularly when you are concerned with potential emergencies and sick kids during the day. Locally, I had the option of signing up for the “Emergency Ride Home Program” from ACHD Commuteride. But I found excuses to get around it and found someone to carpool with me everyday instead.

The challenge came week three when I had several meetings and needed the vehicle at odd times, so carpooling was not an option and I drove alone. Although I did carpool the final week, I found out how easy it is to fall back into the convenience of driving alone.

So if it is this easy to find excuses to drive, how can I save money and lower my carbon footprint? With all the improvements in technology, I figured there must be something out there to help all of us who need to drive but can’t afford to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. So I did some research and found that Garmin nuvi navigation systems have ecoRoute software that routes the most fuel efficient way to get where you need to go. More importantly, there is a unit called the ecoRoute HD which connects to your vehicles OBD II port and acts as a diagnostic system.

According to the Garmin website, the ecoRoute HD provides customizable gauges to monitor RPM, air/fuel mixture, oil pressure, oil temp, coolant temp, air flow, fuel flow, air pressure, and more; reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) allows you to view over 4000 trouble codes, their meaning, and reset the check engine light; and, also accurate fuel consumption data can actually help you improve MPG.

So I purchased the ecoRoute HD for $87 on Amazon.com and to save money, I swapped smart phones with a coworker in order to install the Garmin Mechanic software that works on the Android platform. I tried it this past week but in all honesty, I didn’t understand the readings to well. I actually gave up on trying this with the phone as it didn't connect half the time.


Yesterday I purchased the Garmin nuvi 1490T  (a great deal at $139 after a $20 Costco rebate) to test my fuel savings and carbon footprint. Over the next few weeks I will diligently track my ecoRoute results, learn more about what the readings are telling me, and see how my gas mileage or driving improves! In addition, I am committed to carpooling to work and other appointments or meetings when possible.

Drop Proposed Changes to the House Rules Regarding the Highway Trust Fund

Monday, December 27, 2010
Under current House rule, members may not offer a bill, joint resolution, amendment or conference report that reduces spending levels for highway, highway safety, and public transportation below the funding amounts that are specified in the authorization law (in this case, extensions of SAFETEA-LU). This rule holds regardless of the source of the revenues that support those spending levels.

In the House Rule package for the 112th Congress, Republicans propose to change this current rule. The change would eliminate the provisions which require appropriation funding for highways and transit to be identical to levels set in the authorizing law. This would create opportunities for user fees and transit general fund resources to be used for non-transportation purposes. For example, the new rule would allow members to offer amendments to direct highway and transit resources to other purposes, such as deficit reduction.

As you may recall from the Governor’s Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding December 2010 report, Idaho’s transportation system has a significant funding shortfall of more than $400 million. This proposed House Rule could lower the federal funding Idaho receives for transportation making the funding shortfall for highways and public transportation even larger.

CTAI is working alongside transportation providers, community leaders, and local citizens to improve mobility options in Idaho. We ask for everyone's support to drop the proposed changes to the House Rules regarding the Highway Trust Fund from the final package would significantly benefit Idaho’s transportation system and the Idaho citizens.

Ahh! Transit benefits about to expire!

Monday, November 22, 2010

If you take transit to get to work each day, this coming January you could pay more out of your own pocket when the transit tax deduction gets cut in half. Meanwhile drivers will keep their full parking benefit, which is double what transit commuters will be eligible to receive. For those who spend more than $120 a month on your commute in a vanpool, train or bus, the federal government will be sending a message loud and clear: they’d like you to start driving to work, where you can get $230 for parking deducted from your paycheck tax free.

A provision in the stimulus bill increased the transit benefit from $120 to $230, finally putting it on equal footing with the $230 parking benefit and extending this great benefit to everyone, whether they drive or take transit each day. But that provision is about to expire unless Congress votes to extend it during their December session.

Transportation is the second largest household expense for many households. The millions of Americans who depend on transit to get to work each day shouldn’t have to pay more to do something that also saves us energy, reduces congestion and emissions, and uses less oil.

If you do not think it is fair, then tell congress! Transportation for America has setup a petition you can sign to urge Congress to restore the transit benefit and make it equal to the parking benefit. Signatures will be delivered December 1, so you must act fast! (Source: Transportation for America)