Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the RPA Blog.

Hotline #938

With conference negotiations on the six-year surface transportation reauthorization still underway, NARP is closely monitoring proceedings to track the progress of three goals for the bill: include passenger rail as part of a comprehensive surface transportation bill; allow for flexibility in investing the $77 billion in general revenue used to fund the surface transportation bill; include predictable, dedicated funding for passenger rail, and restore funding to FY2010 levels, when congress inve

Hotline #937

Congress continued its work on forming the conference committee for the transportation bill. Staff was in preliminary negotiations on the timeline for conferees, and it’s unclear whether the final bill will be completed before the November 20 extension deadline. When it comes to the bill’s funding, Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s (R-Texas) amendment to tap a Federal Reserve fund could provide $40 billion in additional general funds for transportation investment. The original bills only provide th

Hotline #936

The House of Representatives' highway and transit bill was approved November 5 by a vote of 363 to 64, setting up a momentous round of negotiations between the House and the Senate on what the final transportation bill will look like. On November 4, NARP alerted passengers about some big opportunities—and threats—they should be aware of, including an easy cheat sheet created by Vice President Sean Jeans-Gail for transit- and train-related amendments that NARP has taken a position on. Becau

Hotline #935

The House passed a three-week extension of highway and transit programs that included a three-year extension of the deadline to implement Positive Train Control (PTC). The Senate passed its own bill by voice vote on October 28 extending highway funding through Nov. 20. It has gone to President Obama for his signature. This marks the 35th short-term extension of surface transportation trust fund over the past six years. Many thanks to the thousands of NARP members who have been waging a campai

Hotline #934

The House Committee on Transportation approved, by a voice vote, a surface transportation bill extending highway and transit funding at current levels for six years. Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) told reporters he believes a bill could come to floor of the full House “possibly next week or after.” While the bill did receive some bipartisan support, many pro-infrastructure Members of Congress were clearly disappointed by the numbers, which freeze in place current funding levels (with a smal

Hotline #933

As pressure on Congress to pass a transportation bill continues, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) says his panel will mark up a long-term bill to renew highway and transit programs on Oct. 22, reports BNA. A short-term highway patch expires Oct. 29, and House transportation panel ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) has raised doubts about whether the House and Senate can reconcile reauthorization legislation before that deadline, “Next week,

Hotline #932

A CNBC breaking news item on Tuesday reported letter sent by Amtrak to the Senate Commerce Committee warning that they will suspend train service starting January 1 unless Congress extends the deadline for rail companies to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. The industry is currently required to have PTC installed by December 31, 2015. “A vast majority of our network would be inoperable without an extension,” Amtrak President Joseph Boardman wrote in a letter to Congress. Amtra

Hotline #931

Photo by By Martin Falbisoner, via Wikimedia Commons It went down to the wire, but Congress managed to pass a stopgap government spending bill mere hours before the midnight deadline. However, they settled for kicking the can down the road until December 11, with no real guide on how they are going to handle their legislative priorities, including the DRIVE Act. According to BNA, members from the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees are looking at using one-time revenue fro

Hotline #930

Despite earlier predictions from Senate transportation leaders, Congress’ newest stopgap budget proposal to avoid a government shutdown fails to extend a deadline for a rail safety technology—a decision that threatens to leave train passengers and freight shippers left stranded at the station come January 1. [ACT NOW to tell your elected officials that you depend on trains!] Congressional leaders said they would use the short-term budget extension—called a Continuing Resolution—as a v

Hotline #929

Hotline #929 The week started with a hopeful announcement that there may be consensus building on a way forward for starting construction on a new train tunnel under the Hudson River, reports New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) asked President Obama to have the federal government cover half of the project’s estimated $20 billion cost, plus potentially billions more in federal loans that the states eventually would repay. "If the federal gove