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Congress signs off on $8.6 billion FY2006 transit bill


Congress recently approved the conference agreement on the fiscal-year 2006 Departments of Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill (H.R. 3058). The president is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill will provide $8.6 billion for federal transit programs, a 12.3 percent increase compared with FY2005. The Federal Transit Administration will govern the funds.

H.R. 3058 includes $1.5 billion for “new start” projects, $1.5 billion for capital investments and $1.3 billion for fixed-guideway modernizations.

The bill also appropriates $1.3 billion for Amtrak — a $107.7 million increase compared with FY2005. However, the legislation also places new restrictions on the national intercity passenger railroad, such as establishing baseline costs and cutting federal subsidies for some services, such as food and first-class sleeper cars. In addition, Amtrak funding will be split into three accounts — capital and debt service, operating subsidy grants and efficiency incentive grants.

Congress also will require the U.S. transportation secretary to determine Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) capital and maintenance costs, and recommend appropriate fees for commuter railroads operating over Amtrak-owned NEC tracks.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/23/2005