Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak about the implementation and reauthorization of the public transportation provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
With this Committeeís leadership, and with the active participation of our State, local and private sector partners, the Department of Transportation has worked to realize the purposes and objectives of TEA-21. I would like to commend the Committee for continuing its leadership by scheduling this hearing on the reauthorization of TEA-21. We look forward to working with you in shaping proposals for the reauthorization of this legislation and establishing the base of resources necessary to meet the public transportation challenges facing the Nation.
Three decades ago, as Mayor of San Jose, California, I learned that the tool that made the most difference in my community was transportation. Nothing else had as great an impact on our economic development, growth patterns, and quality of life. What I have found in the years since is that this is true not just locally, but also nationally. A safe and efficient transportation system is essential to keeping people and goods moving, and making cities and communities prosperous. And public transportation has an important role to play in achieving these goals.
Like many members of Congress, I take great pride in the enactment of the predecessor of TEA-21, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), during my years in the House of Representatives. With that legislation we established new principles for the implementation of the Nationís surface transportation programs, and built partnerships with local and State officials to advance the strategic goals for transportation capital investment. ISTEA established flexibility in the use of funds; a commitment to strengthening the intermodal connections of the Nationís transportation system; new investments in, and deployment of, information technologies for transportation services; and a heightened sensitivity to the impacts that public transportation has on our quality of life and on the shape and character of Americaís communities.
TEA-21 built upon the programmatic initiatives of ISTEA, and, through its financial provisions, provided State and local governments and other transportation providers with greater certainty and stability in transportation funding. It achieved this in part through innovative financing mechanisms, including the budgetary firewalls, as well as record levels of transportation investment.
The programmatic and financial initiatives of these two historic surface transportation acts have provided us with a solid and balanced structure around which we can shape this reauthorization legislation. Yet, although we should continue and build upon ISTEA and TEA-21, we have an opportunity and an obligation to do more than that.
This is a time of extraordinary challenge and opportunity in the transportation sector. On September 11, a determined and remorseless enemy challenged one of Americaís most cherished freedoms, our freedom of movement. The events of that day demonstrate how critical the Nationís transportation system is to the freedom of every American and to the Nationís security and economic well-being. In fact, transit played a critical role at ground zero in New York City, in Washington DC, and in countless other cities across the country. Transit systems safely transported millions of people out of harmís way, as downtown areas, including New York and Washington DC, were evacuated with reliance on the quiet heroism of the Nationís public transportation workers.
In shaping this surface transportation reauthorization bill, we must maximize the safety and security of all Americans, even as we enhance mobility, reduce congestion, and grow the economy. These are not incompatible goals; indeed, the lessons of ISTEA and TEA-21 demonstrate that all are appropriate goals of national transportation policy and that they reinforce each other. It is possible to have a transportation system that is safe and secure, efficient and productive.
In five principal areas, TEA-21 has strengthened the Nationís transportation system: the stability, equity and flexibility of funding; safety; mobility and system upgrading; the application of innovative technologies; and quality of life.
Funding Levels and Program Equity
TEA-21 revolutionized transportation funding and provided record amounts of spending for public transportation, a 50 percent increase over the period of ISTEA. Funding of a significant share of the public transportation program came from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, and the new budgetary firewalls created confidence among grantees regarding program funding. Funding stability has been one of the most important features of TEA-21, as States and local communities have relied upon these assurances and increased their own funding levels to match the commitments made in TEA-21.
Equally important is funding flexibility, first allowed under ISTEA and continued in TEA-21. Flexible funding allows States and communities to tailor their transportation choices to meet their unique needs, and enables State and local decision-makers to consider all transportation options and their impacts on traffic congestion, air pollution, urban sprawl, economic development, and quality of life. Indeed, since ISTEA, over $7.7 billion has been transferred from title 23 programs to public transportation programs, providing critical resources to supplement the basic public transportation authorization levels. During the same period, less than $50 million has been transferred from transit programs to the highway programs.
TEA-21ís innovative loan and grant programs have further augmented both the highway and transit programs. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) has provided almost $3.6 billion in Federal credit assistance to eleven projects of national significance, representing $15 billion in infrastructure improvements. These loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit for highway, transit, and rail projects have encouraged private investment to strengthen transportation infrastructure. Public transportation projects have included support for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authorityís Capital Improvement Program, the Tren Urbano project in San Juan, and improvements to the Staten Island Ferry.
Safety and Security
The Departmentís paramount concern is to assure the American public that the Nation has the safest, most secure system possible, as our transportation system works to meet the needs of the American economy. The United States has an enviable transportation safety record, and public transportationís record is an important part of this picture. TEA-21ís increased funding allowed public transportation agencies to make public transportation even safer by enabling agencies to make improvements to the transportation infrastructure that enhance safety and security.
Our world, however, changed abruptly on September 11th. In the week immediately following the terrorist attacks, I established the National Infrastructure Security Committee (NISC) to evaluate security in the surface modes of transportation and make recommendations for improvements. NISC created six "Direct Action Groups" (DAGs) to handle specific modes of transportation. The DAGs interviewed industry representatives, studied transportation system vulnerabilities, evaluated security protocols and procedures, and developed recommendations to improve security across the transportation network.
Any discussion about security in transportation today, of course, must begin with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). As you know, TSAís initial focus is on aviation security. However, we know that security does not end at the airport perimeter. We are fundamentally committed to creating a system, together with States and local governments, which works to protect the entire transportation network in America. The underlying management structure and operating guidelines are being developed to address the full scope of transportation security needs because, from the traveling publicís point of view, we are one system.
Even as TSA focuses on its initial mission of enhancing aviation security, other modes are stepping up to the new security challenges that we, as a Nation, face. For example, the Federal Transit Administration launched a major security initiative shortly after September 11, working with transit agencies across the Nation to enhance transit security. Using state-of-the-art threat and vulnerability assessment techniques, we are working hand-in-hand with the Nationís major transit providers to identify high risk/high consequence assets and determine how best to mitigate those risks. In addition, transit operators across the Nation are taking advantage of new security awareness and response training opportunities for their employees.
This new security initiative added to the overwhelming success of the transportation systems supporting the 2002 Winter Olympics last month. While providing enhanced security, transit systems in the Salt Lake City area simultaneously moved record levels of users to and from multiple Olympic venues over a 17-day period without a serious security incident. DOTís partnerships with the Utah Transit Authority, Utah Department of Transportation, and others were crucial to this internationally significant success. In partnership with Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials, we formed new security relationships during the Olympic experience that will serve as a benchmark for future efforts. While I am on the subject of the Olympics, I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the transportation community for providing superb accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities during the Games.
Mobility and System Upgrading
ISTEA and TEA-21 placed an unprecedented emphasis on developing a seamless, intermodal transportation system that links highways, rail, transit, ports and airports. The dramatically increased funding under TEA-21 also enhanced mobility by upgrading the condition of public transportation systems. As a direct result of the increased spending provided in TEA-21, overall public transportation conditions have improved dramatically.
TEA-21 also permitted a significant increase in transit service levels and capacity. As of 2000, the Nationís public transportation infrastructure included over 105,000 vehicles, 759 urban bus and rail maintenance facilities, 10,572 miles of track, and 2,825 rail stations. Between 1997 and 2000, the number of transit vehicles increased by 10.3 percent, track mileage grew by 3.6 percent, the number of stations increased by 2.3 percent, and the number of maintenance facilities grew by 4.1 percent.
The substantial investment in the Nationís transit systems has also resulted in an increase in transit ridership. Preliminary estimates indicate that more than 9.6 billion public transit trips were taken in 2001, an increase of 2 percent over 2000. Since 1993, public transportation use has increased by nearly 28 percent, the fastest growth rate among all forms of surface transportation.
TEA-21 also authorized the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) Program to address transportation gaps in public transit systems and reduce barriers for those moving from welfare to work. This program has made transit services available to many who previously did not have access to adequate transportation and, thus, to jobs. As of FY 2000, the JARC program had made new transit service available at more than 16,000 job sites.
The Department of Transportation has made significant strides in research under TEA-21. Important research programs include the development and deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), public transportation vehicle improvements, and the development of new operating concepts such as Bus Rapid Transit.
TEA-21 authorized a total of $603 million for ITS research for FY 1998 to 2003, and significant progress has been made in applying this technology to our surface transportation system. ITS technology, for example, helped to bring real-time improvements in transportation to the just-completed Winter Olympic games. Thanks to TEA-21, the Utah Transit Authority partnered with the Utah Department of Transportation to invest $78 million in TEA-21 funds to develop a model multi-modal Intelligent Transportation System, including a state-of-the-art, voice-activated "511" system that provided information on public transportation, Olympic travel, road conditions, and other subjects that was vital to moving hundreds of thousands of people in and around Salt Lake City.
Throughout America, communities are calling for more energy-efficient and clean public transportation vehicles. Through the resources of TEA-21, the Department has been able to work with local agencies and their private partners to take advantage of developments in automotive electronics, clean fuels, and aviation engineering to introduce vehicles with hybrid electric engines, integrated computer management systems, and light-weight, durable composite materials. As a result, public transportation vehicles are being deployed around the Nation with increased fuel economy, more efficient operations, and less polluting engines. We are not, however, resting on these achievements. TEA-21 provided $29.1 million to bring fuel cell technology to public transportation. The California Fuel Cell Partnership is one example in which public transportation agencies, bus manufacturers, and auto companies are working together to move this zero-emission, highly efficient propulsion technology to market.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has also benefited from technological advances made possible, in part, through TEA-21. Combining exclusive transit-ways, modern stations, high-tech vehicles, and frequent service, BRT provides Ė at a fraction of the cost Ė the high level of service that people want and expect from more expensive transit systems. And investments in Intelligent Transportation System projects have made BRT even more convenient, fast, reliable, and safe. For example, Automated Vehicle Location technologies such as satellites or roadside sensors can now track the location of BRT vehicles, providing information for electronic "next vehicle" displays at stations and on-board automated stop announcements. Signal priority systems also use vehicle location information to control traffic signals cycles to give priority to BRT vehicles, while transit operators use it to achieve more consistent passenger wait times.
Continued Federal investment in the development of new transportation technologies will have enormous benefits for America Ė reducing congestion, improving air quality, and making public transportation an attractive travel alternative.
Quality of Life
TEA-21 has given States and communities across America additional tools and opportunities to enhance the environment and quality of life for their residents. It continued and increased funding for several programs originally authorized in ISTEA, broadened eligibility for others, and established the new Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot (TCSP) program.
Authorized at $120 million under TEA-21, the TCSP program is a discretionary grant program intended to strengthen the linkages between transportation and land use. The grants have provided funding for planning and implementation, as well as technical assistance and research to investigate and address the relationships among transportation, community and system preservation, and private sector-based initiatives.
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program has focused on improving air quality. Under TEA-21, it has provided more than $8 billion in funding for use by State and local partners to support traffic flow projects, cleaner fuels, improved transit services, and bicycle and pedestrian programs that reduce congestion and emissions, and improve the quality of life. A significant share of the title 23 program funds transferred for public transportation use came from the CMAQ program.
TEA-21 directed the Department to streamline environmental reviews. With this directive in mind, we are working to assist States and communities in building infrastructure more efficiently, while retaining important environmental protections that maintain our quality of life. Since the enactment of TEA-21 in 1998, streamlining of the planning and approval process for projects has taken root throughout the country, producing interagency personnel funding agreements that result in faster, concurrent reviews; a merged process for wetland permits with the Army Corps of Engineers; and delegated authority for historic resources. While most of the focus on "environmental streamlining" has been on improving the process for highway projects, public transportation projects can also benefit from streamlining the environmental clearance process. While we have begun the job, more can and will be done.
Building on TEA-21
The Department of Transportation looks forward to working with both Houses of Congress, State and local officials, tribal governments, and stakeholders in shaping the surface transportation reauthorization legislation. We have established an intermodal process to develop surface transportation legislative proposals for reauthorization. A number of intermodal working groups have already identified key issues and programmatic options, and, over the next few months, the Department will be working with stakeholders and Congressional committees in shaping the reauthorization legislation.
In that effort, the Department will be motivated by the following core principles and values:
This is a moment of great opportunity. As was true when Congress considered the landmark ISTEA and TEA-21 legislation, we now have the prospect of creating a legacy that will serve the transportation needs of the American people for decades to come. I am confident that, working together, the Administration and Congress can preserve, enhance and establish surface transportation programs that will provide not only for a safer and more secure system, but also for one that is more efficient and productive and that enhances the quality of life.
From major urban centers to small communities, TEA-21 has created a revolution of sorts in transportation, through stable funding, innovative financing, and investments in new technology. This, in turn, has resulted in increased mobility, more transportation choices, and more economically vital communities for millions of Americans. Today, as we continue to respond to the events of September 11, we should strengthen, not diminish, Americaís freedom of movement, and we should enhance our transportation systems to effectively grow the economy. The reauthorization of our surface transportation programs provides us with the opportunity to do that even more effectively.
Mr. Chairman, thank you again for the opportunity to testify before you today. I look forward to responding to any questions you may have.
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