The ongoing stalls in the resolution process continues as we all wait to find out how we’re going to fund the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) in the coming months. Recently, the House and Senate showed some promise by making some decisions that will allow funding to continue in the short term for a continuation of MAP-21. While this seems to be merely a stop-gap measure, there is a feeling that something is going to have to give. After all, if they don’t move forward soon, we’re going to have to start calling it MAP-22 before long. We should also note that this article is based on the extraordinary work done by the CTAA. Transit supporters like the CTAA help streamline the information provided from the FTA and other national resources, which makes it easier for all of us to understand. For more detail into this information, check out their article here.
Prior to summer recess (on July 30) the senate passed a six-year MAP-21 reauthorization, otherwise known as the DRIVE Act. However, the House did not agree and instead signed a three-month extension. The Senate then followed suit and the outcome is an extension of the MAP-21 that is valid through October 31, 2015, which is approved by both houses.
The federal transit funding issue isn’t going to go away any time soon, although it is suspected that an Election Year may have an impact on the delay. We still need to find the necessary revenue to add to the HTF. But the solution must be sustainable and must be passed in both houses. The DRIVE act appears to be as close as we’re going to get right now. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 65-34, but it wasn’t accepted by the House.
The DRIVE bill has some benefits, which include key formula programs to ensure that 5307, 5310 and 5311 will receive needed increases. As well, it would accommodate an increase in dedicated bus capital (from 1.25M to 2M per state) and the addition of a competitive program for rural operators. Demand response operators would also have the same operating funds flexibility of their fixed-route partners. And the Small Transit Intensive Cities proposal would raise the 5307 set aside from 1.5% to 2.0%. There are also two interesting coordination efforts in the proposed bill’s 5310 language which may help with cost allocation models and financing of non-emergency projects and improved coordination.
We will know more as the House and Senate reconvene later this year to discuss how federal transit funding will function in the long term. Stay tuned for more exciting federal transit funding news here.