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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House transportation appropriations bill would cut TIGER funding in FY2013


Late last week, the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the fiscal-year 2013 budget for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, which would establish spending levels for federal programs, according to a legislative update from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill on April 19.

The THUD bill would provide $10.5 billion for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs, APTA officials said. The House would maintain spending for all Highway Trust Fund/Mass Transit Account contract authority programs at FY2012 levels. However, the General Fund programs would reduce funding for New Starts grants by $138 million to $1.8 billion, including $127.6 million for Small Starts. The Senate bill would increase New Starts funding by $89 million, bringing the FY2013 budget to $2 billion.

Both the House and Senate versions would maintain provisions limiting FTA Full Funding Grant agreements to a 60 percent federal share.

For Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) programs, the House bill would appropriate $184 million, or $5 million more than the Senate’s proposed appropriation, APTA officials reported. The House bill includes no money for high-speed rail, but the Senate version would include $100 million for Capital Assistance for High Performance Passenger Rail Service to fund programs under the Passenger Rail and Investment and Improvement (PRIIA) program, including grants for intercity passenger rail and grants to reduce congestion or facilitate ridership growth along passenger-rail corridors.

The House bill also would create a new, $500 million subaccount for high priority state-of-good-repair maintenance for Amtrak. However, the bill would appropriate $350 million for Amtrak operating assistance, which would be $116 million less than FY2012’s level and $50 million less than the Senate’s FY2013 proposal, APTA officials stated.

But, it appears the $500 million extra for Amtrak would come at the expense of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, they said. The House would set aside no money for TIGER grants, while the Senate would budget $500 million, maintaining the FY2012 levels.

Meanwhile, work continued in the House and Senate’s Conference Committee, which is negotiating a long-term surface transportation bill. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that he would prefer a six-month extension of the SAFETEA-LU law if the committee doesn’t complete its work by June 30, the expiration date for the latest SAFETEA-LU extension.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/11/2012