In October 2009, I told the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) that FTA was going to “lean forward” to strengthen our nation's transit networks and that I needed the transit industry to “lean forward” with us. Today, at the 2012 APTA annual meeting, I was happy to report that since then--together--we have done just that with great success.
In state after state, city after city, public transportation is on the rise. And the American people want more. The White House knows it. Secretary LaHood knows it. Governors and mayors of all political stripes know it.
And between the Recovery Act, the White House’s energy initiatives, and Secretary LaHood’s strategic plan for DOT, our Administration has launched very clear and ambitious goals for public transportation:
- Providing FTA with safety oversight nationwide by reversing a 1964 provision that resulted in a web of varying safety standards;
- Reinvesting in the state of good repair of our nation's transit system;
- Streamlining our approval processes so the public can enjoy the benefits of transit projects sooner;
- Securing a seat at the table for transit, whenever local funding decisions are made;
- Promoting transformational projects; and
- Making sure that every Federal transit manufacturing dollar is spent right here at home to employ more Americans.
In President Obama and Secretary LaHood, we have leaders who get it. We have a President who will stand before a joint session of Congress and speak specifically about the needs for improved transit around the country.
And we have a Secretary of Transportation who mentions light rail and bus rapid transit as often as highways and bridges, who would not rest until Congress approved transit safety oversight. Thanks to Secretary LaHood, DOT awarded more than a third of its nearly $3 billion in TIGER grants to transit projects like the DART Orange Line expansion in Texas and the Moynihan Station in New York.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and heavy lifting by our transit agency partners, we have gathered a lot of steam. More and more Americans are riding transit each month.
And every day, FTA is on both Facebook and Twitter with more good news about transit than we can possibly share. We are relentlessly telling the story of American public transportation.
And--thanks to many different people--it's a good one.