Dems Round Up FY 2009 with Omnibus Appropriations Act

House and Senate to consider bill that wraps up funding needs for fiscal 2009

With Barack Obama addressing Congress tonight and the work on the budget for FY 2010 beginning on Thursday, House and Senate Democrats have released the draft bill that will account for the last of the remaining federal funding “omnibus” appropriations for fiscal 2009, which doesn’t end until July.

The bill provides the following changes from the budget requested by President Bush a year ago:

Program
FY 2008 Enacted
Bush ’09 Request
Omnibus ’09 Bill

Highways
$40.2 B
$39.4 B
$40.7 B

State Rail Assistance
$30 M
$100 M
$90 M

Amtrak
$1.33 B
$0.9 B
$1.49 B

FTA
$9.3 B
$10.1 B
$10.1 B

» Capital Projects

$1.57 B
$1.62 B
$1.81 B

The bill also includes a line referring to Amtrak, pointing out that beginning in FY 2010, the agency will submit its budget to the federal government just as do other federal agencies. This will ensure that future funding of Amtrak – which was repeatedly put on the

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This Week in Washington: Budget FY 2010

The President will reveal his priorities for the next year in a Congressional address and in his budget proposal

Tonight, President Obama will speak to a joint session of Congress in a pseudo-State of the Union address. He will describe his legislative priorities for the year – in terms of health care, the environment, and potentially transportation issues.

The Overhead Wire suggests that the President’s proposed Livable Community initiative might provide increasing funds for streetcars and other forms of transit, but we haven’t heard much about that program so far. With the economy continuing its downward spiral, it seems likely that this won’t be high on the priority list and probably won’t be mentioned in the speech to Congress.

There have been a number of reports, however, that suggest that Mr. Obama will be working for the inclusion of at least $1 billion more for high-speed rail in the 2010 budget,

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Indian Cities Recognize that Solving the Climate Crisis Doesn’t Involve Promoting Automobiles

Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai see large new metro networks as true climate solution

Last week in the New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman wrote about a couple of Americans he met in India who were driving a solar and electricity-powered car around India. They spend their days excitedly showing people there the technology’s potential, hoping to convince lawmakers and entrepreneurs to invest in more sustainable transport. One of those individuals said the following:

“India is full of climate innovators, so spread out across this huge country that many people don’t get to see that these solutions are working right now. We wanted to find a way to bring people together around existing solutions to inspire more action and more innovation. There’s no time left to just talk about the problem.”

Mr. Friedman lauds the pair for their work, but I’m not sure that what they’re doing makes all that much sense. After

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Abu Dhabi Releases Ambitious Transport Plan

» Emirate state’s public transportation system would include a wide variety of modes

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport has released its preliminary surface transportation plan by U.K. consulting firm Steer Davies Gleave. The plan is based on the proposal released last year by the city’s Urban Planning Council called Plan 2030, which describes a reinvented, walkable, and green metropolis. (Watch the incredible video produced by SquintOpera.)

The surface transport plan would focus transportation in two areas: the Capital City District (Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates) and the Downtown/Waterfront District, where the city has begun the construction of a huge arts complex on Saadiyat Island, which will include branches of New York University, the Guggenheim, and the Louvre.

Abu Dhabi’s future, hope the city’s planners, will be sustainable and result in a pedestrian-oriented, less polluted environment. As a result, the plan envisions

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On Board Members and Transit Ridership

Half of Washington Metro’s board doesn’t use the system.

The idea that six of the twelve board members of Washington’s Metro rarely if ever use the train and bus system they manage astonishes me. The Washington Post article reports this awkward exchange with Chairman Jim Graham, who is also a D.C. council member:

“Graham said that last year he rode ‘on various occasions, both bus and rail.’ His most recent bus trip was in December. Train? ‘Every time I went to a Nationals game, because it’s a direct shot from the Columbia Heights Metro to the uh,’ he said, fumbling for the station name. An aide supplied it. ‘Right,’ Graham said. ‘Navy Yard.’”

Mr. Graham, who plays a major role in running the Metro system, should be riding Metro more than simply “on various occasions.” As a board member, he also shouldn’t have to hesitate before remembering the name of a subway

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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