Transportation Bill Passes Senate!16-Mar-2012
March 14, 2012 the Senate passed the two-year, $109 billion surface transportation authorization bill with strong bipartisan support of votes at 74-22.
The Senate’s surface transportation bill included a manager’s amendment which:
- Includes a change to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) definition under the capital investment grants (New Starts/Small Starts) program. This change includes eligibility for BRT projects that have a “substantial” portion of operations within a dedicated right-of-way during peak hours, so long as the right-of-way is semi-dedicated for transit usage and physical elements are in place that reduce vehicle travel time and increase reliability. The new definition applies to future projects, and according to the committee staff, the change does not affect formulas.
- It provides for a new bus discretionary program, authorizing $75 million in general funds to serve as another source of assistance for bus capital needs beyond the new formula funds the bill makes available.
- The amendment adjusts language providing small bus system operators in urbanized areas with flexibility to use 5307 formula funds for operating assistance in a tiered system, with systems operating under 75 buses able to use up to 75 percent of their capital assistance towards operating costs, and operators of 76-100 buses able to use up to 50 percent.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has begun to contact House members to request support and passage of the Senate bill. Action in the House awaits decision by House Leadership on the direction they choose to proceed. The House returns to session next week and we will keep you informed.