House THUD BILL Released

Here are the provisions for FRA and FTA:

  1. For Safety and Operations of the FRA $218,298,000.
  2. For Railroad Research and Development $40,100,000.
  3. For Federal State Partnership for State of Good Repair $500,000,000. This is not a typo but a real 2000% increase.

The Secretary is to give preference to those eligible projects for which the EIS and design work is already complete.

These funds remain eligible until full expended. The Secretary can retain up to 1% for oversight.

  1. For Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements $25,000,000. The Secretary can retain up to 1% for oversight.
  2. For Northeast Corridor Grants to Amtrak: $328,000,000. The Secretary can retain up 1/2 of 1% for oversight. 

The Secretary may retain up to an additional $5,000,000 to fund the Northeast Corridor Commission.

Also out of this appropriation and that of the National System Grants to Amtrak, no less than $50,000,000 shall be used to bring facilities and stations into compliance with the ADA.

  1. For National Network Grants to Amtrak $1,100,000,000. 

The Secretary may retain up to an additional $2,000,000 to fund the State Supported Route Committee.

The following administrative provisions:

  1. No overtime pay exceeding $35,000 for any individual employee unless the President of Amtrak determines such a cap poses a risk to the safety and operational efficiency of the system
  2. The President of Amtrak is report quarterly within 30 days of the end of the quarter on waivers granted and the amount paid above the cap.
  3. The President of Amtrak shall report by March 1, 2018 a summary of all overtime payments incurred by the Corporation for 2017 and three prior calendar years with that such summary shall include the total number of employees that received waivers and the total overtime payments paid to those employees receiving waivers for each month of 2017 and the three prior calendar years.
  4. None of the funds in this act may be used for high speed rail in the State of California or for the California High Speed Rail Authority or may be used by the FRA to administer a grant agreement with the California that contains a tapered match agreement.
  5. None of the funds available by this Act shall be used by the Surface Transportation Board to take any actions with respect to the construction of a high speed rail project in California unless the permit is issued by the Board with respect to the project in its entirety 
  1. For the necessary administrative expenses of the FTA: $110,794,692. None of these fund may be used to create a permanent office of transit security and upon the submission to Congress of the fiscal year 2019 President’s budget, the Secretary shall transmit the annual report on New Starts including proposed allocations for the FY 2019.
  2. FTA Formula Grants, appropriations of $10,300,000,000 from the Mass Transit Account with total obligations of $9,733,353,407 for FY2018.
  3. For Technical Assistance and  Training (from the FTA)  $5,000,000. 
  4. For Capital Investment Grants: $1,752,989,851 of which $1,007,929,851 shall be available for projects authorized by section 5309(d) of Title 49, $145,700,000,shall be available for projects authorized under section 5309 (e). $182,000,000 shall be available for projects authorized by section 5309 (h), and $400,000,000 shall be available for projects authorized under section 5309 (q)
  5. For Grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transist Authority $150,000,000.
  6. Limitation on Full Funding Grant Agreement with a New Start share of not more than 50 per cent.
  7. The Amtrak IG : $23,274,000. 
  8. The summary of the bill says that TIGER is funded at $500,000,000 and essential Air at $150,000,000.

5309(d) of Title 49 is labeled New Fixed Guideway Grants

5309 (e) of Title 49 is labeled Core Capacity Improvement Projects

5309 (h) of Title 49 is labeled Small Start Projects

5309 (q) of Title 49 is labeled Joint Public Transportation and Intercity Passenger Rail Projects. This section obviously is of great importance to us and contains the following subsections,

  1. For projects new fixed guideway capital projects and core capacity improvement projects that provide both public transportation and intercity passenger rail service.
  2. Eligible costs limited to the net capital costs of the public transportation costs attributable to the project based on projected use of the new segment or expanded capacity of the project corridor not including project elements designed to achieve or maintain a state of good repair as determined by the Secretary.
  3. Project must be justified and have a local financial commitment
  4. Secretary shall calculate net capital project costs on estimates of engineering studies, studies of economic feasibility, expected use of equipment or facilities and the Public transportation costs attributable to the pubic transportation costs
  5. The Government shall not exceed 80 % of the net capital costs attributable to the public transportation costs. The non-government shall be provided from undistributed cash surplus, a replacement or depreciation cash fund or reserve or new capital. 

Section 5309 (q) was added in 2015.

Basically this is a constructive bill that would give the Northeast Corridor substantial funds to advance projects particularly the North Portal Bridge within the Gateway Project. TOTAL direct Amtrak Funding would have the National System reduced from $1,167,000,000 to $1,100,000 and the NEC remaining unchanged. However the provisions in the State of Good Repair rising from $25,000,000 to $500,000,000 more than makes up for the decrease in direct funds. Also the $400,000,000 in New Start Money would also help significantly in getting the Gateway Project going. 

Keep in mind that in FY2017 the Senate adjusted the figures to favor the National System more and to provide money for new trains. There is no reason why the Senate will not try to do this again as more money is needed for a restart of Gulf Coast Service.

Assuming that the Anti-Amtrak Lobby does not decimate this bill, these figures are amounts we can live with even if they do not completely fund the 2018 provisions of the Fast Act.