Friday, September 18, 2009

Senate Passes FY 2010 Transit Spending Measure

On Thursday, September 17, the Senate passed its version of FY 2010 Transportation-HUD appropriations. The House had passed its version of this bill (H.R. 3288) on July 23. A quick read of the transit sections in these two bills show they’re not too far off from one another. The Senate would fund the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and its programs at $11.1 billion, which is about 8 percent more than this year’s funding. The House comes in slightly lower, at $10.5 billion, which is about 2 percent above this year’s transit funding.

Aside from specific project earmarks, which always are grist for House-Senate conference committee negotiations, the greatest difference between House and Senate FTA funding is in the “Section 5309” funding for fixed-guideway new starts and small starts: Senate funds this category at $2.3 billion, House would appropriate $1.8 billion (which essentially is the same as this year’s funding). There also are differences in House and Senate approaches relative to the funding of transit-related energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction projects, with the Senate appropriating $100 million to these, and the House directing that unearmarked bus and bus facility funds be used for these projects.

The lion’s share of federal transit spending comes from the category of “Formula and bus grants,” which would receive $8.3 billion in both House and Senate bills, which is one percent above this year’s figure. Both the House and Senate make identical allocations among the categories under that heading:

Clean Fuels Program: $61,500,000
Over-the-Road Bus Accessibility Program: $10,800,000
Urban Area Formula Grants: $4,757,130,662
Bus and Bus Facilities: $584,000,000
Fixed Guideway Modernization: $1,756,134,569
Planning Programs: $113,500,000
Elderly and Persons with Disabilities: $140,680,447
Nonurbanized Area Formula: $607,025,922
Job Access and Reverse Commute: $164,500,000
New Freedom: $92,500,000
National Transit Database: $3,500,000
Alternatives Analysis: $25,000,000
Alternative Transportation in Parks and Park Lands: $26,900,000

House and Senate have made some programmatic shifts from this year, primarily to reduce the amount of discretionary bus and bus facility grants by about $300 million, with offsetting increases in rural and urban formula transit funds. The House Appropriations Committee attributed this decision to the fact that FY 2009 was the last year of SAFETEA-LU project earmarks.

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