Congress Finance

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 brink by the Bush Administration – will be based on the corporation’s actual needs, rather than a political figure’s posturing.

The overall Omnibus bill only represents a $20 billion increase over the appropriations bill originally passed last year, so it doesn’t have many huge surprises on the transportation front. What it does do, however, is clarify all of the recipients of federal aid and point out earmarks that we may have missed. I’ve compiled a list of all specific appropriations to transit or rail in the bill over $950,000. This list includes New Start and Small Start projects, as well as earmarks. I’ve done my best to label the appropriations appropriately (they’re not made explicitly clear in the bill itself).

Keep in mind that this is the draft bill – changes could occur before the bill becomes law. (For instance, some Congressmen may choose to add a few earmarks to their special local projects…)

I apologize in advance for the massive list that follows.


  • $3.8 million to Grand Rapids Amtrak railroad relocation
  • $2.3 million to Southeast High Speed Rail
  • $1.9 million to Chicago Passenger Rail Corridor CREATE
  • $1.9 million to San Francisco Transbay Terminal
  • $1.2 million to San Gabriel trench grade separation project, Alameda Corridor
  • $1 million to Sacramento Terminal Facility
  • $1 million to Redwood Falls, MN Rail Rehabilitation
  • $1 million to Salem, NJ Short Line Rail Rehabilitation


  • $277.7 million to New York Second Avenue Subway, NY NEW START
  • $209.6 million to LIRR East Side Access, NY NEW START
  • $100 million to Seattle University Link LRT, WA NEW START
  • $91.8 million to Phoenix Central LRT, AZ NEW START
  • $88 million to Dallas Northwest/Southeast LRT, TX NEW START
  • $81.6 million to Salt Lake City Commuter Rail, UT NEW START
  • $81.6 million to Portland South Corridor LRT, OR NEW START
  • $81.6 million to Los Angeles Gold Line Extension, CA NEW START
  • $71.2 million to Northstar Rail, MN NEW START
  • $60 million to Denver West LRT, CO NEW START
  • $53.6 million to Norfolk LRT, VA NEW START
  • $48 million to TransHudson Corridor, NJ/NY EARMARK
  • $45 million to Riverside Perris Valley Rail, CA SMALL START
  • $45 million to Portland Streetcar Loop, OR SMALL START
  • $34.7 million to Largo Metro Extension, MD NEW START
  • $30.5 million to Chicago Brown Line, IL FIXED GUIDEWAY IMPROVEMENTS
  • $30 million to Fitchburg, MA Commuter Rail  SMALL START
  • $29.1 million to Dulles Metro, VA EARMARK
  • $26 million to Seattle Central Link, WA NEW START
  • $24 million to Chicago Metra, IL FIXED GUIDEWAY IMPROVEMENTS
  • $20.5 million to Charlotte LRT Extension, NC EARMARK
  • $20 million to Miami Metro Orange Line Extension, FL EARMARK
  • $20 million to Minneapolis Central Corridor LRT, MN EARMARK
  • $20 million to Honolulu LRT, HI EARMARK
  • $19.5 million to San Diego Mid-City BRT, CA SMALL START
  • $15 million to Houston Metro Solutions, TX EARMARK
  • $13 million to Orlando Commuter Rail, FL EARMARK
  • $13 million to MARC Improvements, MD EARMARK
  • $11.2 million to Ft. Collins BRT, CO SMALL START
  • $11 million to Bellevue-Redmond BRT, WA SMALL START
  • $10.4 million to West Virginia Buses EARMARK
  • $10 million to San Francisco Central Subway, CA EARMARK
  • $9.9 million to Los Angeles Wilshire BRT, CA SMALL START
  • $8 million to Livermore, CA BRT SMALL START
  • $8 million to Orlando Downtown Circulator, FL EARMARK
  • $7.7 million to I-69 HOV/BRT, MS EARMARK
  • $7 million to South Sacramento LRT, CA EARMARK
  • $6 million to Chicago Circle Line, IL EARMARK
  • $5.6 million to Flagstaff BRT, AZ SMALL START
  • $5 million to VRE Commuter Rail, VA EARMARK
  • $5 million to Northern Indiana Rail EARMARK
  • $4.8 million to Idaho Transit Buses EARMARK
  • $4.8 million to Downstate IL Buses EARMARK
  • $4.8 million to Salt Lake City Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $4 million to AC Transit BRT, CA EARMARK
  • $3.9 million to Suburban Detroit, MI Buses EARMARK
  • $3.8 million to St. Louis, MO Buses EARMARK
  • $3.8 million to Iowa Buses EARMARK
  • $3.8 million to Wisconsin Buses EARMARK
  • $3.7 million to Stamford Transitway, CT EARMARK
  • $3.5 million to Phoenix-Tucson Rail Study, AZ EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Bridgeport, CT Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Addison County, VT Buses EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Lafayette, IN Buses EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Greater MN Transit EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Harrison County, MS Transit EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Orlando, FL Buses EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Lexington, KY Buses EARMARK
  • $2.9 million to Queen Street Station, PA EARMARK
  • $2.6 million to Anaheim, CA Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $2.6 million to Austin, TX Paratransit Buses EARMARK
  • $2.4 million to Raleigh, NC Transit Operations and Buses EARMARK
  • $2.4 million to Paducah, KY Transit EARMARK
  • $2.4 million to Pierce Transit, WA EARMARK
  • $2.2 million to Hillsborough, FL Transit EARMARK
  • $2.2 million to Intercity Transit Intermodal Center, WA EARMARK
  • $2.1 million to Detroit, MI Buses and Fareboxes EARMARK
  • $2 million to Tucson Modern Streetcar, AZ EARMARK
  • $2 million to Rosslyn Metro Station, VA EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Bloomfield, NJ Intermodal Improvements EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Fort Wright, KY Buses EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Missouri Buses EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Lansing, MI Buses EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Maryland Buses EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Greenfield, MA Transit EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to West of Hudson, NY Transit EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to New Hampshire Rail Corridor EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to North Dakota Transit EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Hawaii Rural Buses EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Whatcom, WA Buses EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Hillsboro, OR Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $1.9 million to Leominster, MA Commuter Station Parking EARMARK
  • $1.8 million to Ben Franklin Transit Facility, WA EARMARK
  • $1.7 million to BuSolutions Transit Research, MI EARMARK TO NON-TRANSIT COMPANY
  • $1.5 million to St. Johns County, FL Buses EARMARK
  • $1.5 million to Murray, KY Route System EARMARK
  • $1.5 million to Community Transportation Association of America EARMARK TO NON-TRANSIT COMPANY
  • $1.5 million to Wyandotte County BRT, KS EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to Ft. Worth, TX Buses EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to Bus Stations near Sanford, FL EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to Enumciaw, WA Welcome Center and Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to ETHRA Vehicles, TN EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to Nevada Transit EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to Toledo, OH Buses EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to Birmingham, AL Buses EARMARK
  • $1.4 million to River Valley, PA Buses EARMARK
  • $1.3 million to Athens-Clarke County Transit Buses EARMARK
  • $1.3 million to Jacksonville BRT, FL EARMARK
  • $1.3 million to Atlanta, GA Buses EARMARK
  • $1.3 million to Wickford Commuter Rail, RI EARMARK
  • $1.3 million to Oklahoma City, OK Buses EARMARK
  • $1.3 million to Pullman, WA Transit EARMARK
  • $1.2 million to Tacoma, WA Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $1.2 million to Foothill Transit, CA EARMARK
  • $1.2 million to Hampton Roads, VA Buses EARMARK
  • $1.1 million to Hudson-Bergen LRT, NJ NEW START
  • $1.1 million to Coast Transit AA, MS EARMARK
  • $1.1 million to Greensboro, NC Transit EARMARK
  • $1 million to Baldwin County, AL Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Denver Southeast Corridor LRT, CO NEW START
  • $1 million to Alabama Senior Transportation EARMARK
  • $1 million to Winter Park, FL Amtrak Station EARMARK
  • $1 million to Bryan, TX Transit Terminal EARMARK
  • $1 million to Lawrence, KS Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Westmoreland County Transit, PA EARMARK
  • $1 million to Albuquerque, NM Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Fall River, MA Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Minneapolis, MN Cedar Avenue BRT EARMARK
  • $1 million to Central City, NV Intermodal Terminal EARMARK
  • $1 million to Central New York Regional Transportation Authority EARMARK
  • $1 million to Dallas Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Las Lunes, NM Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $1 million to Frankford, TN Transit EARMARK
  • $1 million to Glen Cove, NY Parking Hub EARMARK
  • $1 million to Dayton, OH Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Houston Texas Medical Center Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Kalamazoo, MI Transit Facility EARMARK
  • $1 million to Lakewood, NJ Multimodal Facility EARMARK
  • $1 million to Laredo, TX Bus Facility EARMARK
  • $1 million to Key West, FL Bus Facility EARMARK
  • $1 million to Morristown, NJ Commuter Rail Improvements EARMARK
  • $1 million to Riverside and Corona, CA Transit Centers EARMARK
  • $1 million to Niagara Falls, NY Transit EARMARK
  • $1 million to Santee Wateree, SC Intermodal Center EARMARK
  • $1 million to Phoenix, AZ Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Southern Maryland Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Arkansas Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Rhode Island Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Townsend, TN Bus Station EARMARK
  • $1 million to Revere, MA Buses EARMARK
  • $1 million to Atlanta, GA I-20 BRT EARMARK
  • $1 million to Northwest NJ/Northeast PA Passenger Rail EARMARK
  • $1 million to Sarasota, FL BRT EARMARK
  • $1 million to Missouri Transportation Institute EARMARK
  • $1 million to Potomac Yard-Crystal City BRT, VA EARMARK
Congress Finance President

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, and considering that this is on top of the $8 billion already included in the stimulus, the President might see fit to at least mention the issue tonight. We’ll see.

No matter what, though, on Thursday, Mr. Obama will unveil his proposed FY 2010 budget. No details on transportation issues have leaked yet, but we should expect to see more details on funding for Amtrak, high-speed rail, and transit.

Bangalore Chennai India Kolkata Mumbai

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 all, India is developing rapidly, but the vast majority of its inhabitants currently don’t drive cars. Should we be encouraging the use of cars – environmentally sensible or not – in the Subcontinent?

The answer is probably no. India is simply too dense, its urban cores already too crowded, to make cars a sensible mode of transportation. Even if future cars produce little or no emissions directly, their presence still leads to the sprawled-out, auto-dependent and energy-inefficient environment all too common in the United States. The crusade for better mass transit will remain an environmental one, even as automobiles are electrified. Transit encourages dense, walkable, and energy-efficient land use; cars simply don’t.

Mr. Friedman, however, pushes the Americans’ work, convinced of the importance of improving the efficiency of cars:

“After a year of watching adults engage in devastating recklessness in the financial markets and depressing fecklessness in the global climate talks, it’s refreshing to know that the world keeps minting idealistic young people who are not waiting for governments to act, but are starting their own projects and driving innovation.”

What Mr. Friedman doesn’t know – or at least what he refuses to recognize – is that cities and governments all over India are working to develop solutions to the climate crisis – but not through developing new cars. Instead of encouraging the dialogue on developing improvements to automobiles, as does Mr. Friedman, we should be focusing on developing new modes of mobility, based on mass transit. Indeed, Indian cities are building rapid transit networks that are not only energy efficient, but that also encourage the kind of dense land use that’s ultimately best for the environment.Kolkata Metro

In far eastern Indian, Kolkata is laying the foundations of a 15 km east-west line that will be completed by late 2014. The line will run from the Howrah station on the city’s west side, travel under the Hooghly River (the first train tunnel in India), through the central city, and east to Salt Lake. About two-thirds of the system, pictured on the right, will be underground, with the other third running on overhead tracks. The trains are expected to carry about 600,000 passengers daily by 2030. The metro being funded by the national government and the state of West Bengal.

Kolkata has had a north-south metro running since 1984, and it also has an at-grade circular railway. But the new system’s construction was inspired by the incredible success of the New Delhi metro, which opened in 2002. That system, which carries 800,000 people a day on a 46-mile long network, is up to international quality standards and its clean, well-run operations are a remarkable improvement over the packed and sometimes unsafe railways frequently found in India.

On the country’s west east coast, Chennai is developing a 45-km system also inspired by New Delhi. Its two corridors would travel from the center city to the airport, about half underground and half on elevated tracks, with 36 total stations. The project, whose first construction tender was released last week, will be completed by 2015.Bangalore Metro

Bangalore, west east of Chennai, is closer to the completion of its new 2-line system, which will run 33 km mostly elevated with the exception of the portion of the line downtown (map to the right). The project, called the Namma Metro, will be ready for customers in the middle of next year, and carry 1.6 million people daily by 2021.

Finally, Mumbai is developing its first true metro line, which will supplement the city’s suburban rail network. The entirely elevated project’s first phase will extend 63 km but the complete system, to be finished by 2021, will extend to 147 km in distance.

These projects, as well as the expansion of the Delhi Metro and the eventual construction of similar projects in Hyderabad, Pune, and Chandigarh portend well for the future of India. Seemingly unbeknownst to Mr. Friedman, Indian cities are developing transportation alternatives that avoid exasperating climate change while also contributing the to well-being of the population. Solar-powered cars aren’t the solution.

Image above: Kolkata East-West Corridor Plan, from Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation; Bangalore Metro Plan, from Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Releases Ambitious Transport Plan

» Emirate state’s public transportation system would include a wide variety of modesAbu Dhabi Transport Plan

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 tramways running throughout the city, with many parallel lines along the waterfront. In certain districts, the city plans personal rapid transit service, which would supplement the streetcar system. Medium-distance routes would be covered by the multi-lined metro network, with 53 stations. Long-distance journeys to Dubai and Qatar will be provided by regional rail.

The city’s efforts to greatly expand its offering of public transportation is a direct response to Dubai’s equally grand efforts to develop a metro and tram system. The real question is whether either city will be able to create transit systems that encourage redevelopment that is more pedestrian-friendly – after all, both are currently overwhelmed by automotive traffic and relatively difficult to walk around in. The elevated rapid transit system that Dubai is currently building won’t help matters much unless the skyscrapers along the city’s famed Sheikh Zayed Road are redesigned to be less car-oriented. Abu Dhabi seems likely to face similar obstacles, though its growth has been less extreme than that of Dubai’s, so it might have more control over the way development is undertaken.

One wonders, too, whether the economic crisis will put a damper on the wealth and expansion of these two desert metropolises. Then they might start acting more like most Western cities, where budget restrictions make it nearly impossible to imagine subway expansion.

Image above: Abu Dhabi Surface Transport Master Plan, from ConstructionWeek Online.

Washington DC

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 station named after the D.C. district recognizable to virtually everyone in the city. Even worse, his apartment, as far as I can tell, is less than a mile from the Woodley Park/Zoo-Adams Morgan Station on the Red line and very close to a number of bus lines. So why is he only an occasional rider?

But he’s not alone. Another board member, William Euille, is the Mayor of Alexandria. It just so happens that Mr. Euille’s office is located at 301 King Street, less than a mile away from the King Street Metro station. Here’s another coincidence: the Yellow line, which serves the station, heads directly to the Gallery Place-Chinatown station in downtown Washington, which happens to be immediately adjacent to Metro headquarters, where the board meets. What is his excuse for not riding?

Mr. Graham’s Red line, by the way, also serves Gallery Place directly.

Just one more. Board member Neil Albert is a deputy mayor in D.C. and lives less than a mile from the Silver Spring Metro Station – also on the Red line – and lives very close to the heavily-used 16th Street bus lines. And yet he, according to the Post, also rarely rides the system. Where is the outrage?

The fundamental point is this: we should expect our leaders to practice what they preach, especially if it takes very little effort to do so. Washington has a fantastic subway system and a relatively well-managed bus network, so these board members have no excuse not to at least ride transit on the weekends – supposing that their day jobs are so difficult to get to on the public transportation system more than a million people use everyday. If board members don’t feel like riding the very convenient Metro, they shouldn’t be on the board.

Washington isn’t alone, of course. Last year, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Vice Chairman David Mack told the following to the New York Post:

“Why should I ride [the train] and inconvenience myself when I can ride in a car?”