White House Briefing on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook: Public Transportation

February 24, 2022

 

Stephanie Sykes, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure Implementation

A few weeks ago, the White House released a guidebook for state and local governments as a resource for stakeholders and is intended as a roadmap, and it contains the most comprehensive information the White House has to date on the more than 375 programs in the bipartisan infrastructure law. President Biden and the entire team here have made it a priority to make sure that we’re giving all the resources that are needed to make sure that this money hits the ground and reaches all corners of this country. Over $90 billion has been announced, allocated, or headed to states Territories, and local governments. There’s been some key plans and offices that have also been announced. The White House has also announced some public notice periods and that covers a lot of different areas, including clean energy, electric vehicles that will be discussed today. high-speed internet grid modernization lead pipes and paint orphan wells, and most recently, a Great Lakes Restoration announcement.

Florence Chen, Associate Director, Infrastructure Implementation, Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has to account for more than $660 billion divided over five years, across all modes of transportation. Some programs can fund the electrification of our transportation system to send an especially exciting opponent for law because it provides us with a unique offering. Integrate electrification, electric chargers, and electric vehicles. Not only into our federal infrastructure investments as soon as our vision, the future of the transportation system.

Paul Kincaid, Associate Administrator for Communications and Congressional Affair, Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

The presentation will start with the four formula grants for urbanized areas, rural areas, transit benefit seniors and those with disabilities, and our state of good repair grants. These are the major parts of funding, that FTA administers every year. These formula grants will increase by around 30%, across the board, all over the country. Capital Investment Programs (CIG) are the big transformative projects like bus rapid transit networks, light rail programs, streetcars, and even heavy rail expansion in some communities. There is $8 million guaranteed over five years thanks to the bipartisan structure law, but every year of those five Congress has been authorized to fund us with another $3 billion, potentially spending more than $23 billion over five years on these transformative projects.

The FTA is going to be asking transit leaders all over the country to start to plan the transitions of their fleets toward the electric future. The FTA is also asking stakeholders to talk to their workers and to create a plan to transition not just buses, but the men and women who drive them, and keep them running.

Bruce Robinson, Associate Administrator for Program Management, FTA

First, is the Urbanized Area Formula Grant Program. This program is appropriated well is authorized almost $33.4 billion over the five years to support 500 communities across the country. These funds can be used for planning and can be used for operating assistance in small urban areas and small systems in large urban areas, and they can be used for capital projects. The next program in the state of good repair Formula Grant Program, which is authorized for $21.6 billion over five years. This allows transit agencies to find repair and maintenance of the transit systems that are fixed guideways. The third formula program is the formula grants for rural areas program will receive $4.1 billion over the five years. This program provides support of over 1300 rural transit systems across the country, allowing them to purchase transit vehicles and infrastructure plan transit more effectively and to fund operations but also includes the rural Transit Assistance Program.

There are three major types of CIG projects the first are the new star projects, fixed guideways projects, which are either building a new line on the extension of the existing line, there are core capacity projects which are designed to grow the capacity of an existing line.

Funding program highlights include Urbanized formula grants ($33.4 billion), State of Good Repair Grants ($21.6 billion), Formula Grants for Rural Areas ($4.1 billion), Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities ($2.2 billion), Capital investment Grants ($8 billion), Bus and Bus Facilities Formula Grants ($3.2 billion), Low or No Emissions (Bus) Grants ($5.6 billion), Ferry Service for Rural Communities ($2 billion), and Urbanized Area Passenger Ferry Programs ($150 million).

Morteza Farajian, Executive Director, Build America Bureau

The Bureau provides technical assistance to those who want to look at innovative project delivery models, innovative financing options. The Build America Bureau has two types of loan projects which are TIFIA and RRIF. TIFIA expands transit-oriented development eligibility. The program also relaxes the requirements for investment-grade ratings for some loan sizes. The program expands long-term payment plans from 50 to 75 years. The RRIF grants are mainly rail-based which comes from the language of the bill. Providers will receive funds for Credit Risk Premium repaid to the borrower with interest when the loan gets repaid. There is a 75-year loan available which will drive down the costs of the payments.

Q&A:

Sykes asked what the largest direct change constituents will see from the infrastructure plan. Kincaid said that communities will see the change in the formula grant program, and communities will see an increase by 30% across the board. There is also an increase in the CGI programs that will have lasting impacts on the transportation network in the country.

Sykes asked Robinson how to do this program impact 5307/5310 FTA grant programs. Robinson said that there is increased funding for both programs, including the disabilities programs which will increase by 50%. More funding for small communities will also see an increase in funding.

Sykes asked if the funds would flow through the FTA. Kincaid said that programs funding is being changed and the programs will still flow through the FTA. Congress determines what moves through the FTA and the FTA provides the oversight during the implementation phase.

Sykes asked Robinson how the programs discussed today will impact communities with small populations. Robinson said that the formula funding increases will provide funding for smaller communities. Small rural area recipients’ programs are targeted specifically for those communities.

Sykes asked Robinson when the funds will be released for these programs. Robinson said that everyone knows that we’re still operating under a continuing resolution and are awaiting the full-year appropriation but in the interim, the partial year of course table was released, and $4.7 billion worth of funding was released on February 3. Once there is a full-year appropriation, full funding tables will be released.

Sykes asked if there is funding for the electrification of public transportation. Kincaid said that one of the most important things that we’re doing as part of the Biden years administration is to focus on the President’s goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half and then to be a net-zero country by 2050. And we know that transportation is the largest single class of emitters of greenhouse gases in this country so transit can be a massive fix for that. The administration would like to take as many single-occupancy vehicles off the road as possible and make sure that rides are clean, they’re safe, they’re fast, and the administration also wants to ensure those rights do not further emit greenhouse gas.