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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

APTA asks FTA to address shutdown's impact on transit agencies

APTA President and CEO Paul Skoutelas
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is asking the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to immediately alleviate some of the hardships public transit agencies dealt with as a result of the federal government's recent partial shutdown.

In a letter sent Jan. 29 to FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Skoutelas and Chairman David Stackrow Sr. asked the FTA to take several immediate actions, including processing transit agencies' pending requests for reimbursement, such as "operating expenses or identified hardships."

In addition, APTA is asking that the FTA:

• approve all pending requests for operating assistance and capital project approvals;

• certify the State Safety Oversight programs of the four pending applications currently under FTA's review;

• issue fiscal-year 2019 apportionments for FTA programs before the continuing resolution expires Feb. 15; and

• take all other possible actions to help transit agencies restore transportation operations and make critical infrastructure upgrades.

Only a small percentage of transit agencies had to cut back service during the shutdown, the letter acknowledged.

"However, many of our agencies delayed hiring, transferred capital funds to operations, and used lines of credit and reserve funds as well as incurred significant ridership impacts and revenue loss," Skoutelas and Stackrow wrote.

Based on an APTA survey taken earlier this month, more than a third of transit agencies were significantly affected by the shutdown "and those impacts grew worse with each passing day," according to the letter.

"The government shutdown has strained public transportation agencies' ability to connect people to their daily lives," the APTA officials wrote.