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Transit Reauthorization in the 109th Congress

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Publication Date: June 2005

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS22176

Topic: Transportation (Transportation)

Abstract:

Consideration of the future direction, scope, and funding level of federal transit programs is part of the debate over surface transportation reauthorization.1 Congress is now conferencing a surface transportation reauthorization bill (H.R. 3). The House version of H.R. 3 would authorize $52.4 billion for transit over FY2004-FY2009; the Senate version would authorize the equivalent of $53.8 billion. Both the House and Senate bills would generally retain the current structure of the federal transit program. Both bills, however, propose some additions and modifications to the current transit program funding structure. Both would eliminate the combined Trust Fund-General Fund funding of individual federal transit programs, which due to accounting rules threatens to deplete the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund. They would both create a new funding category within the New Starts program, which would provide streamlined review requirements for transit projects seeking less than $75 million in federal funding. And both bills would create a new funding category within the Urbanized Area Formula Program for small cities that provide higher than average levels of transit service. Differences between the bills include the House's proposal to create a New Freedom Initiatives Program to provide access to jobs for persons with disabilities, in contrast to the Senate's New Freedom Initiatives emphasis on access to health care services; and the House's proposal to convert the existing Job Access and Reverse Commute Program to a formula basis. This report will be updated.