April 2017 Print

VTA Spring 2017 Newsletter

       

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Annual Conference Preview

It won’t be long before the VTA Annual Conference and Expo on Tuesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 24!  Thank you to those who have already registered to attend. For those of you who have not yet registered, don’t wait any longer!  Remember that a member transit provider can register 4 staff for one low price of $250 - meals included.  The discounted rooms at the Hilton Crystal City can be reserved online or by phoning the hotel directly – just ask for the VTA room rate.  It’s available until the block of rooms is sold out.

We are finalizing the 2017 program and agenda that is sure to please attendees.  (Note the VTA Board meeting starts at 10 on Tuesday morning.)

We know you will enjoy our opening keynote speaker, Shelly Row

Shelley is a high-energy, engaging speaker and consultant working with top managers and leaders who must make fast, insightful decisions using infotuition®- the intersection of business pragmatics and gut feel.  Shelley’s story is about having courage to trust your infotuition. That trust transformed her from a woman engineer to a woman executive, from over-thinker to decision-maker, and from having a dream to living her dream.  Shelley founded Shelley Row Associates LLC following a distinguished 30-year transportation career and  is widely-known within the transportation community for her leadership, vision and organizational skills.

We have other outstanding presenters ranging from our own DRPT staff and the FTA, to Uber, Jarrett Walker and Associates, and more.  On Tuesday afternoon we will have an opportunity to see new products demonstrated in the exhibit area and a chance to hop aboard the Metroway BRT for a glimpse into the TOD of Arlington and Alexandria. 

Everyone had such a good time last year bowling at Splitsville that we want to offer another exceptional event this year!  We are planning for fun and games and food and drink at the Continental Pool Lounge in Arlington with a reserved area for our participants.  This is made possible through our Title Sponsor, Sonny Merryman.  And don’t forget our Awards Luncheon that closes out the conference. 

We hope all this shows that we want to make VTA’s annual conference an event you won’t want to miss!  Registration is online-  Please take a few minutes to register now!

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Upcoming Webinar with FTA Region III – “What’s New That Affects You!”

We know that you want to hear about the FTA updates on TrAMS, Triennial Review, safety, and anything else you are interested in.  We have scheduled a webinar with FTA on Thursday, May 4 from 10-11 a.m. to cover that topic.  FTA Deputy Regional Administrator Tony Tarone wants to be sure to customize this webinar according to your needs so please send us any topics or questions about federal programs, grants, or oversight requirements that you would want his office to include in the webinar.  Please submit your questions to VTA at lguthrie@lmg-llc.net  and we will compile them.  Tony asks that you make the questions as specific as you can.  For example, a good question would be “My agency is considering piggybacking.  What are the pitfalls we should be concerned about”  Please avoid broad questions such as “Can you talk about civil rights requirements?”  While the regional office will address as many questions as they can, please note that time may not permit all of the questions to be answered during the webinar.  So get your questions in early if possible!

Please put this date and time on your calendar and we’ll send more detailed information later once we’ve gotten your feedback. 

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General Assembly Session 2017 – Looking Back and Ahead

The 46-day 2017 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly has concluded. The legislature returns for one day, April 5th, to consider Governor McAuliffe’s 40 vetoes and amendments to bills. There were 2335 bills that were introduced this session with 926 of those passing the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate and submitted to the Governor.  Several of those bills are priorities that VTA worked to pass.  The ones that have dominated the media are the Metrorail Safety Commission bills (HB 2136, SB 1251)  that were critical this session.  Unfortunately, the FTA didn’t wait for the conclusion of our General Assembly session to see that we passed the bills and decided to adhere to its original deadline of February 9th.  On the very next day, it was announced that FTA was going to withhold the 5% in federal funds for all urbanized transit systems.  Fortunately a budget amendment was approved that authorizes loans to transit systems to hold them harmless from the withholding. 

Another victory for transit is the passage of the fare enforcement inspector bills that will allow transit systems across the state to hire for these positions as needed.  Thank you to Delegate Betsy Carr (DelBCarr@house.virginia.gov) (HB 1931) and Senator Rosalyn Dance (district16@senate.virginia.gov) (SB1172) for their willingness to carry these bills for us for their hard work in the lengthy process of shepherding them through to passage. 

For a complete status report on transportation bills, please check out our latest bill chart on our website. Click on Member Center, login, and then click on Legislative Watch.  All of our internal legislative charts and position papers can be found there. 

Amendments to the 2016-18 state budget were approved on the Saturday morning before adjournment. The budget is balanced without any new taxes or fees.  One of the budget amendments pertains to the WMATA compact.  This amendment directs the Secretary of Transportation to undertake a review of WMATA with the intent of identifying issues requiring reform, with the intent of identifying all issues of concern that must be addressed as part of the WMATA Compact renegotiation.  Since this was approved you have heard that Governor McAuliffe has tapped former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to spearhead this review. 

Thank each of you who contributed to the success of transit this session.  If you attended our legislative briefing or reception, became a reception sponsor, contacted your legislator, or helped us recruit online activists for our Transit Action Network, all of us with VTA are grateful for your involvement.  We continue to lay the foundation for a big lift next year when we expect to go to the General Assembly and our new Governor to ask for additional capital funding so please help us educate decision-makers at your local level about the impacts of the “capital fiscal cliff” on economic growth, access to jobs, and safety.  As City Councils and Boards of Supervisors realize that they will soon be assuming a disproportionate share of capital funding, they will join our call for a solution.  Our transit benefits/needs video can be found on our home page along with our accompanying infographic handout.  Please plan to show this to every possible audience in your community and call on us here at VTA if you can use our assistance.  

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Progress with TSDAC and TCPRAB

Transportation is chock full of acronyms and transit certainly has its own vocabulary.  The Transit Service Delivery Advisory Committee (TSDAC) was established in the 2013 General Assembly Session by passage of SB1140.  It was formed to advise DRPT in the development of a distribution process for transit capital and operating funds.  The committee consists of representatives from the Virginia Transit Association (VTA’s reps are Kate Mattice, NVTC and Brian Smith, HRT) , Community Transportation Association of Virginia (CTAV), Virginia Municipal League (VML), Virginia Association of Counties (VACO), and DRPT.   TSDAC has been called to active duty this past year to serve as the advisors to yet another group, the Transit Capital Project Revenue Advisory Board (TCPRAB

During the 2016 General Assembly Session, the Transit Capital Project Revenue Advisory Board was established by HB 1359 within DRPT to examine the effects of the loss of state transit capital funds, identify additional sources of revenue, and develop proposals for prioritization of transit capital funds. The committee consists of representatives from the Virginia Transit Association (VTA’s reps are former Delegate Tom Rust, Herndon and Dr. James Toscano, Virginia Beach), CTAV, VML, VACO, and DRPT.

These two groups are critically important to transit funding this year as they are fulfilling the charge to identify sources of capital revenue to replace expiring CPR bonds and federal PRIIA funding AND to determine a prioritization process by which funds will be distributed. WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff is the consulting firm DRPT has engaged for the prioritization prong of the task and Cambridge Systematics is the consultant on the prioritization. Both firms are VTA members. 

There are many moving parts in the work of both groups.  You are encouraged to follow their meetings that stream online and to review the extensive documentation that accompanies each agenda.  Both groups and their meeting materials can be found at the links listed above.  There is debate on how much State of Good Repair funding should be a baseline if and when funding sharply declines.  There is also debate on what revenue enhancement choice would have the closest nexus to transit and could be readily assessed without creating more administrative burden. 

So the word to the wise here is to pay close attention throughout this process and not wait until the conclusion of their work when they make recommendations to the General Assembly.  The next meeting of the TCPRAB is April 8th.  You can watch the meeting stream online or you can come in person to the VDOT Auditorium where you can offer public comment if you like.  If you have comments you would like for Lisa to make on your behalf, please pass them along.

The final report of the TCPRAB is due to the General Assembly by August 1.  VTA is anticipating that there is likely to be an omnibus bill with their revenue enhancement and prioritization recommendations that will be introduced in the 2018 General Assembly session.  Assuming that this will reflect our members’ views, it will be a top priority for VTA and its members.

VTA serves as your advocate in this process as well as at the General Assembly or at Congress.  Transit capital funding is critical to the future of public transportation and to its associated businesses and jobs. 

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Federal Update – President Trump and the Congress

The President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 "skinny budget" proposal would phase out the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, putting projects currently in the pipeline and future projects at risk. The Congress takes the next step with appropriations.  Given the threat posed by the President’s proposed budget, we recently distributed letters to our Congressional delegation asking them to support transit funding.  Here is an accompanying press release that outlines our calls for them to put aside partisan concerns and tackle the looming infrastructure crisis that threatens the economic health and safety of our communities.  The U.S. is already underinvesting in public transportation, as noted by the D- grade in the recently released American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card.

VTA calls on Congress to reject the President’s cuts and reaffirm its support for transit funding programs as part of the fiscal year 18 budget process. In addition, VTA urges Congress to increase investments in public transportation as part of any new infrastructure initiative.

We ask you to help make the case with our Congressional delegation now.  We make it easy to take action with our Transit Action Network.  Click here for the message we’ve already prepared for you.  Once you take action it will be automatically delivered to your Representative and Senators.  Whether you are a transit provider, a vendor, a nonprofit activist, or just an engaged individual, when we work together we can make our message stronger!  There is much at stake!

 

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