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Amtrak, FAST Act Rail Programs, and Transit Receive Boost in Omnibus Budget Released Today

May 1, 2017

Congress released an omnibus agreement today that provides increased transportation funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017, with $57.651 billion in total funding for transportation and housing programs—a $350 million increase above FY2016.

The spending deal has already secured broad bipartisan support in the House and the Senate, and is a resounding rejection of the philosophy behind the extreme spending cuts outlined by the White House in its proposed FY 2018 budget.

Make no mistake, this is proof of the power of committed advocacy. Without the dedicated action of NARP members and the national passenger rail coalition over the past two months, increased investment in trains and transit would not have made the final deal.

With a good blueprint in place, all that’s left is for Congress to vote this bill across the finish line. Let your elected officials know you support the passenger rail funding in the FY2017 omnibus, and ask them to vote YES on the ‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017’.”

Rail and transit details from the transportation section are outlined below.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION – The omnibus agreement includes $18.5 billion in FY2017 discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) – The bill provides $1.85 billion for the FRA, an increase of $173 million above the FY2016 enacted level, including:

  • $1.5 billion for Amtrak, including $328 million for the Northeast Corridor (an increase of $103 million over FY2016) and $1.167 billion to support the National Network (an increase of $12 million over FY2016).
  • $98 million in rail grants to support the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) safety technology, make rail infrastructure improvements, and restore or enhance passenger rail service.
  • $258 million to support rail safety and research programs, including inspectors and safety personnel to help ensure the safety of passengers and local communities.
  • $98 million for FAST Act Rail Grants: for a full description of what these grant programs do, please refer to NARP’s section by section analysis of the FAST Act:
    • Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grants: $25 million for capital projects to bring existing assets into a state of good repair;
    • Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grants: $68 million for capital projects to improve rail corridors, with $10 million reserved for projects that “contribute to the initiation or restoration of intercity passenger rail service”;
    • Restoration and Enhancement Grants: $5 million for projects that restore and enhance passenger rail service.

TIGER Grants – $500 million for TIGER grants, equal to the FY2016 enacted level. TIGER grants are a popular program supporting innovative projects, including multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional federal programs.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – $12.4 billion in total budgetary resources for the FTA, including:

  • $9.7 billion for transit formula grants from the Highway Trust Fund.
  • $2.4 billion for Capital Investment Grants (“New Starts”), fully funding all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” (FFGA) transit projects, as well supporting new projects anticipated to receive FFGA awards.
  • Notably, the bill directs the DOT to move ahead with specific FFGAs, including $150 million for Maryland’s Purple Line rail project, and $100 million for the Caltrain Peninsula Electrification project that the Trump Administration had indefinitely suspended.

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