It was a huge victory last year when Congress approved part of Metro’s America Fast Forward program in the latest federal transportation spending bill. The expansion of the federal loan program called TIFIA will supply transit agencies across the nation with low-interest loans backed by the federal government. Lower borrowing costs = lower project costs.
However, Congress didn’t include the other half of America Fast Forward — a bond program in which the federal government subsidizes most of the interest. That would be a big score for transportationagencies that are often saddled with long-term debt they incur to build big projects that provide big mobility benefits.
One of the big legislative goals of Metro this year is to persuade Congress to adopt such a program. While the bond program would modestly expand federal spending — controversial in some quarters — it would also help create jobs, spur infrastructure improvements and create tax credits for investors who purchase the bonds. It may also provide a more reliable funding stream for transportation projects than the current Highway Trust Fund – which is spiraling rapidly towards insolvency.
The above flier describes the bond program in greater depth. Metro is lobbying now as the current transportation bill expires in mid-2014 and now is time to start work on the next multi-year bill.