***Click here for video from Senator Menendez's floor remarks today***
Washington - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development, took to the floor today to applaud the Senate's bipartisan transit bill, the Federal Public Transportation Act of 2012. If passed by the full Senate and House, New Jersey would receive more federal transit funding per year than ever before - without increased overall federal spending. Some Senate Republicans are attempting to add unrelated, ideological amendments to the bill like preventing women's access to health services such as contraception, mammograms and other cancer screenings. Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed a bill that puts transit funding in peril and is paid for by drilling for oil fifty miles from Cape May.
"Under this legislation, my state of New Jersey stands to receive $519 million in federal transit funding without any increase in federal spending," said Senator Menendez. "This bill cuts waste and eliminates earmarks so that New Jersey will benefit from a $63 million increase in transit funding, more transit funding than in any previous year."
The Federal Public Transportation Act of 2012 contains many provisions championed by Senator Menendez including:
- A New $20 Million Transit Oriented Development Planning Program. The $20 million program will help communities create more livable communities by planning new development around new transit hubs. The provision is based on similar language in Senator Menendez's Livable communities Act, and in New Jersey would work in tandem with the state's Transit Village program.
- Increased Funding for the National Transit Institute at Rutgers (NTI) [$5million]. NTI provides training, education, and clearinghouse services in support of public transportation and quality of life for the entire nation. In recent years this important national program has seen its funding slashed, despite the increased need for training in the face of an ongoing wave of retirements in the industry. This bill will raise NTI's funding to $5 million per year from $3.8 million.
- Increased Clean Fuels Program Funding [From $51.5M to $65M]. This competitive program for clean fuel transit vehicles and for refueling infrastructure will help agencies switch from dirty, expensive fuels, to cleaner, cheaper fuels. This will help improve air quality and allow transit agencies to untether themselves from volatile oil prices.
- Increased Funding for Transportation for Seniors and the Disabled [NJ Funding Goes From $6.5 M to $7.8 M]. With demand for senior transportation increasing, the bill is able to meet that demand with increased resources.
- Streamlined and Reformed "New Starts" Process. The bill streamlines the process for the federal approval of new projects and allows projects designed to increase capacity on existing systems rather than just allow new systems or new lines. Older systems such as New Jersey's that are at capacity could, for instance, use the program to add a new station, add another track, or purchase bigger train cars.