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EXECUTIVE PREDICTIONS 2009

VIEWS: 24 PAGES: 10

If my crystal ball were not at the cleaners, I could make a lot of predictions regarding the future of transit in America. Since I don't have access to fortune telling devices, let's start with the answer to one of the first questions posed when I began with South West Transit Association. "Whatever happened to the 'Mass' in 'Mass Transit'? SAFETEA-LU formalized the evolution of mass transit into public transportation. This concept is our future.

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									                                  PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION — THE YEAR AHEAD                        tion needs and challenges. Such a policy should pri-



                                 T    The coming year may well mark an important                oritize transportation-related investments and identify
                                  turning point for public transportation in America. I         gimmick-free ways to fund these projects for decades
                                  predict that in 2009, the U.S. Department of Transpor-        to come. It should also align with a new national
                                  tation and Congress will begin laying the groundwork          energy policy that weans us away from conventional
                                  for many changes, both large and small, that will affect      fuels. And importantly, we need a policy that removes
                                  how government evaluates, funds and helps to grow             barriers between modes, so that we can see our way
                                  the nation’s rail, bus and other transit systems.             clear, for example, to building high-speed inter-city rail
                                      On the whole, I believe these changes will greatly        networks that relieve overcrowded airlines on short-
                                  benefit the transit industry and the traveling public. Ever   haul flights in busy urban corridors.
      James S. Simpson             an optimist, I think that some of the nation’s recent             I believe that America is rediscovering the
    Former Administrator           challenges — the troubled economy, the gas-price             economic value and other benefits that public trans-
 Federal Transit Administration crisis, the surge in transit ridership — have been a            portation delivers to millions of us every day. I am
     U.S. Department of            welcome shock to the system, in a way. These events          confident that working together, we will find creative
        Transportation                                                                          ways to invest, and re-invest, in a world-class public
                                   have helped a lot of people, including elected officials
                                   from both parties, to realize that transit is a lynchpin     transportation infrastructure that is second to none.
of our economy. People and businesses need alternatives to the automobile and
                                                                                                BIOGRAPHY
gridlock. Communities are eager to combat sprawl with compact development and
                                                                                                    James S. Simpson, FTA’s recently departed ad-
transit links. And transit agencies need a predictable and adequate funding stream
                                                                                                ministrator, successfully steered the agency for more
to build, operate and maintain their systems.
                                                                                                than two years. He approved nearly $14 billion for
    One of the catalysts for change is the new authorizing legislation for federal surface
                                                                                                capital transit projects in urban and rural communi-
transportation programs that Congress will soon begin to tackle. While no one knows
                                                                                                ties; promoted efforts to relieve congestion and spur
yet what the bill will contain, we can probably expect to see provisions that streamline
                                                                                                transit-oriented development; and empowered FTA to
the federal grant-making process, revise the spending ratio between highway and transit
                                                                                                adopt a culture of continuous improvement. ■
projects, cut back on earmarks that drain discretionary funds, promote new initiatives to
make transportation greener and environmentally sustainable, and explore alternative
revenue enhancements (such as charging drivers for vehicle miles traveled), intelligent
transportation, and other efforts that move public transit forward.
    New spending on national infrastructure is also likely to include funding for capital          FTA
transit projects around the country. This infusion will undoubtedly help to jump-start the              FTA is one of 11 operating administrations
more than 500 transit projects now ready to go that the American Public Transportation             within the U.S. Department of Transportation with
Association has identified, but for a funding commitment from Uncle Sam to add to                  more than 500 employees located in Washing-
state and loc
								
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