U.S. House subcommittee proposes deep cuts to federal funding for transit projects

This is the latest chapter in what has been an annual debate on what the federal government should be spending on helping local areas build and maintain transportation infrastructure. It’s important to Metro because the federal government has been — and hopefully will continue to be — a funding partner on a variety of projects, including the Crenshaw/LAX Line (with a $545.9-million federally backed loan), the Regional Connector (a federal New Starts grant and loan) and the Purple Line Extension (a $1.25-billion New Starts grant for Phase One that is near to being finalized and an $856-million loan).

Here’s the latest update from Metro’s government relations staff:

Earlier today, the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development released the outlines of its Fiscal Year 2015 spending bill in advance of the subcommittee’s markup set for tomorrow.

While the outline of the bill does not list specific projects slated for funding, it does give spending levels for transportation programs which benefit our agency. The bill sets the spending level for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants (New Starts) program at $1.69 billion which is $252 million less than the funding provided last year.

Additionally, the House transportation bill cuts TIGER grant funding from $600 million this year to $100 million in Fiscal Year 2015. Further, the House bill would, if enacted into law, not allow TIGER grants to be used for mass transit and passenger rail projects.

Our Government Relations staff have been and will continue working with members of both the Senate and House Committee on Appropriations to ensure that the $100 million allocated in the President’s Budget for each of our New Starts projects (Downtown Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension) is fully funded when the House and Senate adopt their final transportation spending bill later this year. Our staff will also work to ensure that the TIGER grant program is fully funded and that mass transit and passenger rail projects continue to be eligible for grants under this program.


11 replies

  1. Did Metro think “free” money from the federal government was going to last forever? Bring back fiscal responsibility to those in charge of government agencies.

    Re-prioritize what’s important and focus on the revenue makers as top priority. For example, is spending money in installing artwork really that much of a higher priority issue than installing more gates to fight fare evasion?

    Is there any way stations can help pay for themselves through advertisements, paid parking lots, or adding in vendor stands?

    Has Metro looked into upgrading older escalators with newer energy efficient models so that they automatically stop when people aren’t on it, saving electric costs?

    Spend money to save money in the long term, spend money to make money in the long term, don’t spend money that makes no money at all!

  2. It was to be expected. And with the midterm elections where many are predicting that the Senate will also become GOP majority, more federal cuts to transit funding is going to be the likely outlook for the next few years with a lameduck president.

    If Metro hadn’t wasted all these times running under the honor system and going on stupid shopping sprees for million dollar mobile homes, wasteful spending on artwork before revenues are locked in, or a $600,000 wind turbine that will take 100 years for the ROI, the money could have been spent more wisely to ensure long term profit gains instead.

    Why wasn’t the money spent on getting rid of the honor system since its inception?
    Why wasn’t the money spent on fixing the TAP system?
    Why wasn’t the money spent on upgrading the entire fare structure?
    Why wasn’t the money spent on adding retail space at the stations
    Why wasn’t the money spent on making parking lots with parking meters?

    All of these could’ve been done to lock in future revenues for Metro as a fall back when Congress slashes transit funds, but Metro didn’t.

    Sorry if I sound cold, by I feel no sympathy for Metro. They wasted money time and time again and you want me to feel sad for you? Next time, use the money wisely and use the investments to put profits and revenues a priority before feel good issues.

  3. Terrible! The house should be ashamed. There are more cars on the road every day and congestion will keep getting worse. We need mass transit, because LA is on the brink to becoming a “true” world class city. I believe Metro really needs to show the people how it is spending its money and gain the confidence of the people in LA and in the house. I only pray that the house realizes that cars are not the future. I mean, we give big oil many subsides that no one complains about that. The Crenshaw line will one day be LA’s most important line for foreseeable future. New adults, like myself, don’t want to own a car. I rather live near transit.

  4. The House introduce the low budget. The Senate comes in with the higher budget.Hopefully, the bill can be passed before the elections. Otherwise, it appears the GOP may control both houses for the next two years.

  5. With 26 floors of employees, most of which are not in transportation, I’m sure more cuts can be made. Using the money saved perhaps those left will allow more bus service to be provided. Although most of if not all of the former LACTC anti bus service thinking hopefully is gone it’s all to apparent many of their replacements promote the same philosophy. In the early 1980’s a temporary sales tax of one half percent was passed which allowed the RTD to reduce fares from 85 cents to 50 cents. With the increase of rider ship the RTD put more buses on the street. More rider ship meant the LACTC had to allocate more money to the RTD. The LACTC demanded the RTD pull the additional buses off the street or lose all their subsidy’s. With the merger in the early 1990’s this philosophy became part of the MTA’s SOP. Non transportation executives have been brought in over the years that have made outrages statements and decisions. The initial TAP program almost became a total failure, not a partial one, because the person in charge had no idea of the amount of DAY PASS’s sold each day. Bus Operators were originally a source to purchase a TAP CARD. The problem was the Bus Operators no matter which line they worked were only to be issued 20 TAP CARDS for their entire shift. As a Bus Operator in the early 1980’s I would sell 40 plus transfers each trip or a total of about 100 each day.
    This is just one glaring example of those running the MTA have no idea of what the reality of operating a transit system involves. There are those who have risen thru the ranks including Art Leahy. Some may think he is fairly new to the MTA but in fact he was terminated right after the merger along with many others from the RTD. Art started out as a RTD Bus Operator.

  6. This is what you get when you put a bunch of backwater, rural idiots in charge of the House of Representatives. It’s especially problematic because the Senate overrepresents rural areas, so there’s a chance they won’t push back as much as they should. Anyway, I suspect that this will end in some kind of continuing resolution, since the House is clearly not mature enough to pass a realistic budget itself.

    (Also, Paul C, you’re missing the point. They propose to continue heavily subsidizing highway projects while slashing transit funding. That’s not a free market, and it’s no wonder that transit has to be subsidized when cars are receiving massively more in handouts. There are dumb, white elephant transit projects – like most mixed-traffic streetcars – and there are dumb, white elephant highway projects like widening roads in rural areas that no-one really uses. If you want less of a federal role, at least do it )

  7. Good. Hopefully Metro will stop being a welfare recipient and actually start making their own money instead like the rest of the hard working people.

  8. And that’s supposed to come as a surprise to whom, given the people, and the agendas, currently dominating the House?