The U.S. House and Senate have announced an agreement on a 5-year roughly $300 billion surface transportation bill! This is the first transportation agreement to come out of Congress in 10 years. Below are some highlights of the aptly-named “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” or FAST Act:
Fully funds all public transportation programs for five years at growing levels;
Increases overall public transportation funding by 18 percent and dedicated funding for buses and bus facilities by 89 percent over the life of the bill;
Continues current formula funding and creates new, discretionary competitive grants under the bus and bus facilities program;
Provides funding stability for the Transit Cooperative Research Program;
Authorizes increased funding for Amtrak and competitive grants for intercity passenger rail; and
Provides funds for implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems on commuter railroads.
This is an important achievement for our transportation infrastructure, and represents a slight shift in federal priorities towards better funding transit and alternatives to single occupant vehicle oriented projects.