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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

APTA decries Trump's budget cuts to transit programs

President Donald Trump
Photo – Twitter

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) leaders expressed disappointment yesterday that President Donald Trump's budget reaffirmed the administration's plan to phase out the Capital Improvement Grants (CIG) and eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant programs.

Trump's fiscal-year 2018 budget, unveiled yesterday, reaffirmed positions taken in an earlier outline of the budget that called for phasing out CIG and ending the TIGER grant program. APTA officials had hoped the administration would rethink those proposals by the time the actual budget was sent to Congress.

"This budget proposal to eliminate critical public transportation infrastructure projects is inconsistent with addressing America's critical transportation needs and helping America's economy prosper," said Richard White, APTA's acting president and chief executive officer, in a press release. "These targeted cuts to public transit go directly against the president's own calls for new infrastructure spending."

Congress reaffirmed its responsibility to transit when it authorized $2.3 billion annually, through 2020, for the CIG program in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, APTA officials said.

Also included in the Trump budget was a plan to eliminate funding for Amtrak's long-distance rail service. APTA officials noted that the FAST Act authorized nearly $5.5 billion through 2020 for Amtrak's national network.

Regarding TIGER, Congress has been annually funding the program "at significant levels," APTA officials said.

If implemented, the proposed transit cuts would put 800,000 jobs at risk and a possible loss of $90 billion in economic output, APTA officials said, citing a recent economic analysis prepared for the association.

Titled the "Economic Implications of Proposed Public Transit Capital Funding Cuts," the analysis found that the cuts to transit would jeopardize $38 billion of already planned transit projects, according to APTA.

"We are extremely concerned with the administration's proposal to phase out existing infrastructure programs that are putting people to work building projects that our communities need and support," White said.

The budget also included the president's infrastructure initiative that calls for $200 billion in federal funding over 10 years to leverage up to $1 trillion in infrastructure projects. However, the initiative included no details on how that money would be allocated, APTA noted.

"Many of the public transit ballot initiatives that voters approved last year raised local and state dollars that would serve as a match to federal dollars," said White. "This significant cut in federal funding rejects the voter's will because those projects were proposed with the expectation that the federal government would be a responsible funding partner."

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