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JOHNSON REVIEWS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION UNDER SURFACE TRANSPORTATION LAW

January 16, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) held a hearing titled “Progress Report on Public Transportation under MAP-21.”

Below is Chairman Johnson’s statement as prepared for delivery:

“This hearing will come to order. Today the Banking Committee seeks to review how public transportation and the federal programs that assist our nation’s transit providers have advanced since the current surface transportation law, MAP-21, was enacted in 2012. This Committee worked well together on the transit provisions of MAP-21, and I look forward to continuing our Committee’s bipartisan work on public transportation issues. Reliable and accessible public transit is vital in rural areas like South Dakota, just as it is vital in large cities. Our transit systems connect workers with employers, keep cars off congested roads, and get people where they’re going safely and affordably.

“The public transportation title developed by the Banking Committee for MAP-21 made many important changes to federal transit programs. To name just a few, MAP-21 provided authority to the Federal Transit Administration to institute a much needed national framework for safety oversight; it created the transit emergency relief program that is helping New York and New Jersey’s transit agencies recover from Superstorm Sandy; and in Indian Country, MAP-21 provided new formula funds to 83 tribes across the nation to help them deliver safe and reliable transit services to one of the most underserved segments of the United States population.

“Our focus today will be on the implementation of MAP-21, but we cannot overlook the state of the Highway Trust Fund. The Mass Transit Account is expected to reach the end of MAP-21 on September 30th with only a very small positive balance, and the Highway Account could face a shortfall by late summer. Without Congressional action, both accounts will be unable to support current program funding levels after MAP-21 expires. Federal transportation investment this year and beyond depends on the stability of the Trust Fund. The Banking Committee will begin working with the Environment and Public Works, Commerce and Finance Committees in the coming months to advance legislation to succeed MAP-21, but we must first review progress under the current law.

“Today we will hear directly from the FTA on how they have implemented MAP-21. I look forward to hearing details about FTA’s strategies to improve safety and asset management practices while minimizing any new administrative costs for grantees, particularly for small and rural transit providers. The Committee will also hear about how MAP-21’s changes to project development and program structure are proceeding. Finally, the Committee will examine issues that GAO has profiled in its research, such as the need for coordination at the local level to ensure that the varied federal programs that assist local transportation services are working together effectively.”

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