From a speech to the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association:
Last year, public transportation ridership reached its highest level in 50 years. While this upward trend is tremendously encouraging, it is overloading many of your systems, and making the need for infrastructure investment all the more pressing.
The question is not whether we must invest in our nation’s infrastructure, but rather, how do we pay for it? How do we proceed in a fiscally sound way?
One idea being considered is an infrastructure development bank to promote public and private investment in projects of regional and national significance, including public transportation projects. The bank would be an independent federal entity that would evaluate major infrastructure proposals and finance the best of them using a variety of financial tools. […]
I know you have a keen interest in the reauthorization next year of the surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU. […]
House Democrats are committed to robust public investment in public transportation. We are committed to advancing a bill that – at a minimum – honors the historic 80/20 funding split between highways and transit. The reduction of transit’s share below 20 percent that occurred in the 2005 reauthorization will not be repeated.
We are committed to reforming the New Starts process for funding rail transit projects. Many of you have worked long and hard to develop New Starts projects, only to have the Bush Administration move the goal posts, forcing you to comply with new criteria. This must stop.
It is essential that the environmental and economic development benefits of rail transit become fundamental criteria in the decision-making process for New Starts. We see with each new light rail system – whether the location is Dallas, Minneapolis, or Portland – a tremendous upsurge in transit-oriented development around rail lines and stations. Transit and the high-density development that accompanies it both have tremendous value in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and putting us on the path to a low-carbon economy.