Updated December 4, 2015 – TRA Newswire / NARP / APTA

First Fully-Funded, Long-Term Surface Transportation Bill in Ten Years

(Washington) – President Obama signed into law a five year transportation infrastructure bill today. The measure will invest $61 billion in our nation’s public transportation systems and authorizes more than $300 billion in the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure. The public transportation industry applauds both chambers of Congress for their bipartisan votes to pass the bill, titled “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act).

“This is a great day for America,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Chair Valarie J. McCall and board member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. “On behalf of the 1,500 APTA member organizations, I commend Congress and the Obama Administration for their bipartisan leadership in passing this long-term FAST Act. This legislation is critical for Americans across the country who take 35 million trips on public transportation each day, equating to 10.8 billion trips annually.”

“As the first long-term surface transportation bill in ten years, the significance of this legislation cannot be overstated,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “This is excellent news for America’s public transportation systems, their riders, and the small, medium, and large communities they serve. A well-funded, long-term surface transportation authorization is critical to the economic competitiveness and prosperity of our nation’s communities. To sum it up, wherever public transportation goes, community grows.” McCall and Melaniphy thank the millions of Americans who, by using public transit every day, demonstrate its value to our country.

On Tuesday, in a historic win for passenger train advocates, passenger rail was included as part of a comprehensive transportation bill for the first time ever—something NARP members have been working towards for years!

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is a five-year bill that would invest $305 billion in U.S. infrastructure. While the vast majority of it will go towards highways, $10.355 billion has been authorized for intercity passenger trains, along with $12.209 billion in dedicated funding for transit.

“The FAST Act is an important step in the right direction for this country. We’ve gone from the House voting on whether to completely eliminate funding to Amtrak in the spring, to the full Congress thinking seriously and thoughtfully about how to improve and expand the passenger rail network in a single calendar year; that is a big achievement for America’s 31 million passengers,” said NARP President Jim Mathews. “However, there’s more work for advocates to do. We must make sure that Congress follows through on fully funding these programs; that states and local communities know they can use these new programs to secure more frequent, improved service; and that, eventually, we secure the dedicated, predictable funding that is essential to building a modern rail system and a connected America.”

[FULL BILL LANGUAGE HERE, JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT HERE]

NARP’s staff is reviewing the 1,300-plus page text of the bill to provide a section-by-section breakdown of the rail title.

INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL FUNDING (IN MILLIONS)

Fiscal Year
Program20162017201820192020
Sec. Total
Amtrak – Northeast Corridor (Sec. 11101)$450.0$474.0$515.0$557.0$600.0$2,596.0
Amtrak – National Network (Sec. 11101)$1,000.0$1,026.0$1,085.0$1,143.0$1,200.0$5,454.0
Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Improvements (Sec. 11102)$98.0$190.0$230.0$255.0$330.0$1,103.0
Federal State Partnership for State of Good Repair (Sec. 11103)$82.0$140.0$175.0$300.0$300.0$997.0
Restoration & Enhancement Grants (Sec. 11104)$20.0$20.0$20.0$20.0$20.0$100.0
Amtrak OIG (Sec. 11105)$20.0$20.5$21.0$21.5$22.0$105.0
Yearly Total$1,670.0$1,870.5$2,046.0$2,296.5$2,472.0$10,355.0

5 year total

RAIL PROGRAM BREAKDOWN

  • AMTRAK – NORTHEAST CORRIDOR — $2.596 billion over five years
  • AMTRAK – NATIONAL NETWORK — $5.454 billion over five years
  • GULF COAST WORKING GROUP — Of the total amount made available to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration, for each of fiscal years 2016 and 2017, $500,000 shall be used to convene the Gulf Coast rail service working.
  • CONSOLIDATED RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SAFETY IMPROVEMENT — $1.103 billion over five years.
  • FEDERAL-STATE PARTNERSHIP FOR STATE OF GOOD REPAIR — $997 million over five years.
  • RESTORATION AND ENHANCEMENT GRANTS — $100 million over five years.
  • AMTRAK OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL — $105 million over five years.
  • AUTHORIZATION OF GRANTS FOR POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL — There shall be available from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund to carry out this section $199,000,000 for fiscal year 2017 to assist in financing the installation of positive train control systems.

 

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act

 

 

 

Rail Title

Subtitle B – Amtrak Reforms

Sec. 11201 — Accounts: Within 180 days of enactment, create at least two distinct accounts for the Northeast Corridor and the National Network to assign all revenues, appropriations, grants and other forms of financial assistance, compensation, and other sources of funds, including operating surplus, commuter payments, and state payments.

Directs the Secretary, “to the greatest extent practicable,” to ensure that the amounts assigned to the Northeast Corridor and National Network accounts shall be confined by Amtrak to their respective corridors.

Amtrak shall produce profit and loss statements for each of the business lines, and, as appropriate:

  • revenues;
  • appropriations; and
  • transfers between business lines.

Amtrak shall submit monthly updated profit and loss statements for each of the business lines and asset categories to the Secretary.

If Amtrak determines that a transfer between the accounts is necessary, Amtrak may transfer funds between the Northeast Corridor and National Network accounts if—

  • Amtrak notifies the Amtrak Board of Directors, including the Secretary, at least 10 days prior to the expected date of transfer;
  • solely for a transfer that will materially change a grant agreement, the Secretary 15 approves.

The Secretary shall then notify the appropriate Congressional Committees, the State Supported Route Committee, and the Northeast Corridor Commission.

SEC. 11203. 5-YEAR BUSINESS LINE AND ASSET PLANS — EVALUATION OF NATIONAL ASSETS COSTS —The Secretary shall evaluate the costs and scope of all national assets; and determine the activities and costs that are required in order to ensure the efficient operations of a national rail passenger system; appropriate for allocation to 1 of the other Amtrak business lines; and extraneous to providing an efficient national rail passenger system or are too costly relative to the benefits or performance outcomes they provide.

Not later than 1 year after the date of completion of the evaluation, the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, in consultation with the Amtrak Board of Directors, the governors of each relevant State, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia, or their designees, shall restructure or reallocate, or both, the national assets costs in accordance with the determination under that section, including making appropriate updates to Amtrak’s cost accounting methodology and system.

SEC. 11204. STATE-SUPPORTED ROUTE COMMITTEE — The Secretary of Transportation shall establish the State-Supported Route Committee (referred to in this section as the ‘Committee’) to promote mutual cooperation and planning pertaining to the rail operations of Amtrak and related activities of trains operated by Amtrak on State-supported routes and to further implement section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008

NON-VOTING MEMBERS — The Committee may invite and accept other non-voting members to participate in Committee activities, as appropriate.

The Surface Transportation Board shall establish procedures for resolution of disputes brought before it under this subsection, which may include provision of professional mediation services. A decision of the Surface Transportation Board under this subsection shall be binding on the parties to the dispute.

SEC. 11205. COMPOSITION OF AMTRAK’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS — Expands Amtrak’s board from 9 directors to 10 (the Secretary of Transportation, Amtrak’s President, and 8 individuals appointed by the President of the United States).

SEC. 11206. ROUTE AND SERVICE PLANNING DECISIONS — Amtrak shall obtain the services of an independent entity to develop and recommend objective methodologies for Amtrak to use in determining what intercity rail passenger transportation routes and services it should provide, including the establishment of new routes, the elimination of existing routes, and the contraction or expansion of services or frequencies over such routes.

Amtrak shall require the independent entity to consider—

  • the current and expected performance and service quality of intercity rail passenger transportation operations, including cost recovery, on-time performance, ridership, on-board services, stations, facilities, equipment, and other services;
  • the connectivity of a route with other routes;
  • the transportation needs of communities and populations that are not well served by intercity rail passenger transportation service or by other forms of intercity transportation;
  • the methodologies of Amtrak and major intercity rail passenger transportation service providers in other countries for determining intercity passenger rail routes and services;
  • the financial and operational effects on the overall network, including the effects on direct and indirect costs;
  • the views of States, rail carriers that own infrastructure over which Amtrak operates, Interstate Compacts established by Congress and States, Amtrak employee representatives, stakeholder organizations, and other interested parties; and
  • the funding levels that will be available under authorization levels that have been enacted into law.

The Amtrak Board of Directors shall consider the adoption of each recommendation and transmit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report explaining the reasons for adopting or not adopting each recommendation.

SEC. 11207. FOOD AND BEVERAGE REFORM —  Amtrak shall develop and begin implementing a plan to eliminate, within 5 years of such date of enactment, the operating loss associated with providing food and beverage service on board Amtrak trains.

In developing and implementing the plan, Amtrak shall consider a combination of cost management and revenue generation initiatives, including scheduling optimization; on-board logistics; product development and supply chain efficiency; training, awards, and accountability; technology enhancements and process improvements; and ticket revenue allocation.

Amtrak shall ensure that no Amtrak employee holding a position as of the date of enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 is involuntarily separated because of the development and implementation of the plan required under subsection, any other action taken by Amtrak to implement this section.

NO FEDERAL FUNDING FOR OPERATING LOSSES — Beginning on the date that is 5 years after the date of enactment of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, no Federal funds may be used to cover any operating loss associated with providing food and beverage service on a route operated by Amtrak or a rail carrier that operates a route in lieu of Amtrak pursuant to section 24711.

SEC. 11209. LOCAL PRODUCTS AND PROMOTIONAL EVENTS — Amtrak shall establish a pilot program for a State or States that sponsor a State supported route operated by Amtrak to facilitate onboard purchase and sale of local food and beverage products; and partnerships with local entities to hold pro motional events on trains or in stations.

The pilot program shall allow a State or States to nominate and select a local food and beverage products supplier or suppliers or local promotional event partner; allow a State or States to charge a reason able price or fee for local food and beverage products or promotional events and related activities to help defray the costs of program administration and State-supported routes; and provide a mechanism to ensure that State products can effectively be handled and integrated into existing food and beverage services, including compliance with all applicable regulations and standards governing such services.

The pilot program shall require an annual report that documents revenues and costs and indicates whether the products or events resulted in a reduction in the financial contribution of a State or States to the applicable State-supported route.

SEC. 11210. AMTRAK PILOT PROGRAM FOR PASSENGERS TRANSPORTING DOMESTICATED CATS AND DOGS — Amtrak shall develop a pilot program that allows passengers to transport domesticated cats or dogs on certain trains operated by Amtrak.

SEC. 11211. RIGHT-OF-WAY LEVERAGING — Amtrak shall issue a Request for Proposals seeking qualified persons or entities to utilize right-of-way and real estate owned, controlled, or managed by Amtrak for tele communications systems, energy distribution systems, and other activities considered appropriate by Amtrak.

SEC. 11212. STATION DEVELOPMENT — Amtrak shall submit a report that describes options to enhance economic development and accessibility of and around Amtrak stations and terminals, for the purposes of improving station condition, functionality, capacity, and customer amenities; generating additional investment capital and development-related revenue streams; increasing ridership and revenue; and strengthening multimodal connections, including transit, intercity buses, roll-on and roll-off bicycles, and airports, as appropriate.

The report should also include options for additional Amtrak stops that would have a positive incremental financial impact to Amtrak, based on Amtrak feasibility studies that demonstrate a financial benefit to Amtrak by generating additional revenue that exceeds any incremental costs.

SEC. 11213. AMTRAK BOARDING PROCEDURES — The Amtrak Office of Inspector General shall submit a report that evaluates Amtrak’s boarding procedures for passengers, including passengers using or transporting nonmotorized transportation, such as bicycles, at its 15 stations through which the most people pass.

The report shall compare Amtrak’s boarding procedures to boarding procedures of providers of commuter railroad passenger transportation at stations shared with Amtrak; international intercity passenger rail boarding procedures; and fixed guideway transit boarding procedures

The OIG shall makes recommendations, as appropriate, to improve Amtrak’s boarding procedures, including recommendations regarding the queuing of passengers and free-flow of all station users and facility improvements needed to achieve the recommendations.

Subtitle C—Intercity Passenger Rail Policy

SEC. 11301. CONSOLIDATED RAIL INFRASTRUCTURE AND SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS

The following projects are eligible to receive grants under this section:

  • Deployment of safety technology, including positive train control and rail integrity inspection systems.
  • A capital project identified by the Secretary as being necessary to address congestion challenges affecting rail service.
  • A capital project identified by the Secretary as being necessary to reduce congestion and facilitate ridership growth in intercity passenger rail transportation along heavily traveled rail corridors.
  • A highway-rail grade crossing improvement project, including installation, repair, or improvement of grade separations, railroad crossing signals, gates, and related technologies, highway traffic signalization, highway lighting and crossing approach signage, roadway improvements such as medians or other barriers, railroad crossing panels and surfaces, and safety engineering improvements to reduce risk in quiet zones or potential quiet zones.
  • A rail line relocation and improvement project.
  • A capital project to improve short-line or regional railroad infrastructure.
  • The preparation of regional rail and corridor service development plans and corresponding environmental analyses.
  • Any project that the Secretary considers necessary to enhance multimodal connections or facilitate service integration between rail service and other modes, including between intercity rail passenger transportation and intercity bus service or commercial air service.
  • The development and implementation of a safety program or institute designed to improve rail safety.
  • Any research that the Secretary considers necessary to advance any particular aspect of rail-related capital, operations, or safety improvements.

Of the amounts appropriated under this section, at least 25 percent shall be available for projects in rural areas.

The Federal share of total project costs under this section shall not exceed 80 percent.

  1. FEDERAL-STATE PARTNERSHIP FOR STATE OF GOOD REPAIR — Eligible projects include:
  • capital projects to replace existing assets in-kind;
  • capital projects to replace existing assets with assets that increase capacity or provide a higher level of service;
  • capital projects to ensure that service can be maintained while existing assets are brought to a state of good repair; and
  • capital projects to bring existing assets into a state of good repair.

The Secretary shall give preference to eligible projects for which Amtrak is not the sole applicant; applications were submitted jointly by multiple applicants; and the proposed Federal share of total project costs does not exceed 50 percent.

The Federal share of total costs for a project under this section shall not exceed 80 percent.

SEC. 11303. RESTORATION AND ENHANCEMENT GRANTS — An applicant for a grant under this section shall submit to the Secretary a capital and mobilization plan that includes an operating plan that describes the planned operation of the service, including the identity and qualifications of the train operator; service frequency; the planned routes and schedules; the station facilities that will be utilized; projected ridership, revenues, and costs;

The application will need to detail the equipment that will be utilized, how such equipment will be acquired or refurbished, and where such equipment will be maintained.

The application must also include a funding plan that describes the funding of initial capital costs and operating costs for the first 3 years of operation; and describes the funding of operating costs and capital costs, to the extent necessary, after the first 3 years of operation.

Applicants will need to provide a description of the status of negotiations and agreements with each of the railroads or regional transportation authorities whose tracks or facilities would be utilized by the service, and the anticipated railroad carrier

In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to projects:

  • that would restore service over routes formerly operated by Amtrak; that would provide daily or daytime service over routes where such service did not previously exist;
  • that include funding (including funding from railroads), or other significant participation by State, local, and regional governmental and private entities;
  • that include a funding plan that demonstrates the intercity rail passenger service will be financially sustainable beyond the 3-year grant period;
  • that would provide service to regions and communities that are underserved or not served by other intercity public transportation;
  • that would foster economic development, particularly in rural communities and for disadvantaged populations;
  • that would provide other non-transportation benefits;
  • and that would enhance connectivity and geographic coverage of the existing national network of intercity rail passenger service.

Restoration and improvement grants may not exceed:

  • 80 percent of the projected net operating costs for the first year of service;
  • 60 percent of the projected net operating costs for the second year of service; and
  • 40 percent of the projected net operating costs for the third year of service.

 

SEC. 11304. GULF COAST RAIL SERVICE WORKING GROUP — The Secretary shall convene a working group to evaluate the restoration of intercity rail passenger service in the Gulf Coast region between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Orlando, Florida.

Within nine months, the working group shall evaluate all options for restoring intercity rail passenger service in the Gulf Coast region select a preferred option for restoring such service; and develop a prioritized inventory of capital projects and other actions required to restore such service and cost estimates for such projects or actions.

SEC. 11307. COMPETITIVE PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE PILOT PROGRAM — the Secretary of Transportation implement a pilot program for competitive selection of private operators of not more than 3 long-distance routes operated by Amtrak.

Would allow private railroad to provide intercity rail passenger transportation over a long-distance route for an operation period of 4 years, with an option to allow the contract to be renewed for 1 additional operation period of 4 years.

If an eligible petitioner awarded a route under this section ceases to operate the service or fails to fulfill an obligation under a contract required under subsection (b)(1)(E), the Secretary, in collaboration with the Surface Transportation Board, shall take any necessary action consistent with this title to enforce the contract and ensure the continued provision of service.

SEC. 11308. PERFORMANCE-BASED PROPOSALS — the Secretary shall issue a request for proposals for projects for the financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a high-speed passenger rail system operating within the 11 federally designated high-speed rail corridors.

SEC. 11309. LARGE CAPITAL PROJECT REQUIREMENTS — For a grant awarded under this chapter for an amount in excess of $1 billion, the Secretary may not obligate any funding unless the applicant demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that the applicant has committed, and will be able to fulfill, the non-Federal share required for the grant within the applicant’s proposed project completion timetable.

SEC. 11311. SHARED-USE STUDY — the Secretary, in consultation with Amtrak, commuter rail passenger transportation authorities, other railroad carriers, railroad carriers that own rail infrastructure over which both passenger and freight trains operate, States, the Surface Transportation Board, the Northeast Corridor Commission, the State-Supported Route Committee established under section 24712 of such title, and groups representing rail passengers and customers, as appropriate, shall complete a study that evaluates the shared use of right-of-way by passenger and freight rail systems; and the operational, institutional, and legal structures that would best support improvements to these systems.

SEC. 11312. NORTHEAST CORRIDOR THROUGH-TICKETING AND PROCUREMENT EFFICIENCIES — Within 3 years of enactment, the Northeast Corridor Commission shall complete a study on the feasibility of and options for permitting through-ticketing between Amtrak service and commuter rail services on the Northeast Corridor.

Subtitle D — Safety

SEC. 11415. RAIL PASSENGER LIABILITY — Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the aggregate allowable awards to all rail passengers, against all defendants, for all claims, including claims for punitive damages, arising from a single accident or incident involving Amtrak occurring on May 12, 2015, shall not exceed $295,000,000.

ADJUSTMENT BASED ON CONSUMER PRICE INDEX — The liability cap shall be adjusted on the date of enactment of this Act to reflect the change in the Consumer Price Index-All Urban Consumers between such date and December 2, 1997, and the Secretary shall provide appropriate public notice of such adjustment.

Subtitle E — Track, Railroad, and Infrastructure Network (TRAIN) Act

SEC. 11502. TREATMENT OF IMPROVEMENTS TO RAIL AND TRANSIT UNDER PRESERVATION REQUIREMENTS — Improvements to, or the maintenance, rehabilitation, or operation of, railroad or rail transit lines that are in use or were historically used for the transportation of goods or passengers shall not be considered a use of a historic site regardless of whether it is listed on, or eligible for listing on, the National Register of Historic Places.

SEC. 11503. EFFICIENT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS — The Secretary shall publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to propose new and existing categorical exclusions for railroad projects.

Subtitle F — Railroad Infrastructure Financing Improvement Act

REQUIRED NON-FEDERAL MATCH FOR TRANSITORIENTED DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS — The Secretary shall require each recipient of a direct loan or loan guarantee under this section for a project to provide a non-Federal match of not less than 25 percent of the total amount expended by the recipient for such project.

SEC. 11605. PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION —Not later than 30 days after the date that the Secretary receives an application under this section, the Secretary shall provide the applicant written notice as to whether the application is complete or incomplete.

Not later than 60 days after the date the Secretary notifies an applicant that an application is complete, the Secretary shall provide the applicant written notice as to whether the Secretary has approved or disapproved the application.

Miscellaneous

SEC. 3028. AUTHORIZATION OF GRANTS FOR POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL — There shall be available from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund to carry out this section $199,000,000 for fiscal year 2017 to assist in financing the installation of positive train control systems.