In the last couple of weeks, several blog posts here have discussed how the new transportation bill, MAP-21, affects our highways. From a boost to our TIFIA program to faster project delivery, MAP-21 offers innovative steps forward for America's roads.
And today, Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan is speaking to the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Workshop about what MAP-21 means for our nation's transit systems.
Transit advocates should be cheered that MAP-21 declares: "It is in the interest of the United States, including the economic interest of the United States, to foster the development and revitalization of public transportation systems..."
The most important aspect of MAP-21 as it relates to transit is the new safety oversight role for FTA. Since 2009, this Administration has been pressing Congress to help us ensure that transit systems nationwide operate under a consistent set of safety standards. Now that MAP-21 has given FTA the authority to develop these safety standards, Americans will be able to ride transit with greater confidence than ever.
As Deputy Administrator McMillan said, "This will help ensure that transit is safer and more reliable than ever—that’s key to encouraging people to take transit, which is central to building sustainable communities."
But, to make our transit systems more reliable, MAP-21 goes beyond funding. It also requires FTA to establish State of Good Repair performance measures and asks transit agencies to develop asset management plans to meet these standards. This will ensure that America’s public transportation is in good working order, whether you’re riding a bus in Portland, Maine, or a streetcar in Portland, Oregon.
To create new transit service, the new transportation bill modifies our New Starts and Small Starts programs, allowing major transit agencies to access—for the first time—capital investment grants for projects that expand their core capacity. The MAP-21 capital investment program also allows us to speed up project approvals in certain circumstances by consolidating phases and permitting streamlined review. That means faster time from project planning to completion so riders can see the benefits of transit enhancements sooner.
These are just some features of the new bill, but there are many others, including emergency relief, a pilot program for planning transit-oriented development, and a transit workforce development program. To learn more, you can visit the FTA’s MAP-21 website.
The bottom line is: MAP-21 will create good-paying jobs and put Americans back to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. It provides states and communities with two years of steady funding and offers the certainty they need to invest in projects that improve mobility and provide the transportation choices—like transit--that people want.