APTA to Trump: Use rescinded funds for rail, bus repairs
President Donald Trump has proposed rescinding $279 million of prior-year surface transportation funding, including $100 million of public transit and intercity passenger-rail grants, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced yesterday. In a "legislative alert," APTA said that the president's administration has proposed rescinding: • $47 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) formula grants that had been provided in federal fiscal-year 2005 and prior years; and • $53 million in the Federal Railroad Administration-issued capital assistance for high-speed rail corridors and intercity passenger-rail service, including $47 million for the Chicago-to-Iowa City intercity passenger-rail project. Trump's proposal also calls for rescinding $179 million of prior-year Federal Highway Administration funding. APTA officials recommended that instead of rescinding funds for public transportation and intercity passenger rail, the Trump administration should apply the funds to address the current $90 billion in the state-of-good-repair backlog for bus and rail systems. According to an FTA document, the prior-year formula grants and intercity passenger-rail funding were recommended for cuts because they were initially provided for under a general fund program. "Formula funding for transit agencies is now carried out exclusively by the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, and these balances are the residual balances remaining from funds provided in FY 2005 and earlier," the FTA document stated. "Enacting this rescission would have a negligible impact on overall transit investments." Regarding the high-speed rail funds, the FTA document noted that the $47 million in grants were awarded in 2011, but not obligated for the Chicago-to-Iowa City corridor project. "The obligation of these funds is contingent upon work done to construct improvements necessary to restart passenger-rail service between the two regions, which is long stalled and still in the design phase," the document stated.