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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

APTA's Melaniphy calls on Congress to pass multi-year surface transportation bill

Citing strong public support for transit, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy called on Congress to act quickly on passage of multi-year surface transportation legislation.

In a “state of the industry” article published earlier this month in APTA’s Passenger Transport report, Melaniphy noted that the public is increasingly “pro-transit,” as evidenced by the “overwhelming support” for public-transportation ballot initiatives since 2000.

“Americans believe in public transportation and want to invest in it — both Democrats and Republicans alike,” Melaniphy said in a prepared statement.

He noted that while many public transportation systems and private sector businesses were hit hard by the economic recession, there are signs that the economy improved last year.

“Despite severe financial challenges, public transit ridership rose for the first three reported quarters in a row in 2011 — the first time in three years,” Melaniphy said. “Perhaps public transportation, as a lagging indicator, is showing the economy is starting to come back: Nearly 60 percent of the trips on public transportation are taken for work commutes.”

Long-term trends such as a growing population, growth in the number of transit-oriented development projects, the aging of the baby boom generation, and increasing interest in public transportation and the environment by younger generations signal that demand for public transit will continue to increase in the future, he said. As a result, Congress needs to act quickly to pass a well-funded, multi-year surface transportation bill, Melaniphy said.

“Passing federal legislation in 2012 must be the No. 1 priority of the industry,” he said. “Short-term extensions are stifling our industry, both public and private sectors, and they are not a sustainable solution. We need to plan for the future to maintain and expand public transportation in the years to come.”

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More News from 1/23/2012