Senate Staff Notice: Transit Hearing 8 October 2002

Wendell Cox Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee Testimony on Public Transit


TO: Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee Members and Staff

FROM: Sarah Kline

DATE: October 7, 2002

RE: Hearing on America's Transit Needs

On Tuesday, October 8, at 10:00 a.m., in SD-538, the Banking Committee will hold a hearing to consider "Perspectives on America's Transit Needs." The Committee will hear from the following witnesses:

  • •The Honorable Jennifer Dorn, Federal Transit Administrator
  • •The Honorable Patrick McCrory, Mayor, Charlotte, NC
  • •Mr. Eric Rodriguez, National Council of La Raza
  • •Mr. David Winstead, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • •Mr. Wendell Cox, Visiting Fellow, Heritage Foundation
  • •The Honorable Roy Kienitz, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning

Scope of the Hearing

The Banking Committee has jurisdiction over the transit provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which expires on September 30, 2003. This is the seventh hearing in a series being held by the Committee and the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee in preparation for reauthorization of TEA-21 next year. At this hearing, the Federal Transit Administrator will present the Department of Transportation's new report on the status of the nation's transit systems (the "Conditions and Performance Report"). She will be followed by a panel of witnesses who will provide context for the report by sharing their views on the importance of transit investment.

The Conditions and Performance Report

Every two years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is required to report on the conditions and performance of our nation's surface transportation systems, including transit. The report estimates the annual capital investment needed over a 20-year period to maintain existing transit systems at current quality and service levels, as well as the investment needed to improve systems' quality and service levels. The report estimates total investment needed from all sources - Federal, state, and local funds as well as farebox revenues - and does not provide recommendations on the appropriate breakdown among these funding sources. The report also quantifies the benefits of investment in transit and has consistently concluded that total benefits exceed total costs for most investments.

DOT is currently finalizing the 2001 report. According to information DOT has made public, the 2001 report concludes that an annual investment of $14.84 billion would be necessary simply to maintain conditions and performance at current levels, and $20.62 billion would be required to improve both conditions and performance (all figures are in 2000 dollars). The following table illustrates the report's conclusions about investment needs over the next 20 years:

Conditions Performance Average Annual Cost ($2000)
Maintain Maintain $14.8 billion
Improve Maintain $16.0 billion
Maintain Improve $19.5 billion
Improve Improve $20.6 billion

The report also notes that total capital investment in 2000 was $9.1 billion, leaving a significant gap with the estimated need. Federal capital assistance in 2000 was $4.2 billion.

Other measures of transit needs have shown an even greater investment gap. For example, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently released its "Bottom Line" report, which concludes that an annual capital investment of $19 billion would be required to maintain the conditions and performance of the nation's transit systems, even at the modest pace of ridership growth (1.6% per year) assumed by DOT in the Conditions and Performance report. If ridership continues to grow at its recent pace of 3.5% per year, AASHTO concludes that improving the conditions and performance of transit would require $44 billion annually over the next authorization period. AASHTO's Bottom Line report is available at


The Honorable Jennifer Dorn, Federal Transit Administrator

The Federal Transit Administration manages the $7 billion/year transit program. With a staff of 500 employees in 10 regional offices and the DC headquarters, the FTA awards grants, provides technical assistance, and oversees the transit activities of more than 600 grant recipients. Ms. Dorn previously served as the Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Labor under President George H.W. Bush and was the Associate Deputy Secretary of Transportation in the administration of President Reagan. From 1991 to 1998 she was Senior Vice President of the American National Red Cross.

The Honorable Patrick McCrory, Mayor, Charlotte, NC

Mayor McCrory was first elected in 1995, and in 2001, became the third Mayor in Charlotte's history to serve a fourth term. He has focused on improving public safety, transportation and land use by incorporating long-term planning principles into City policy. He has been recognized nationally for his leadership in developing Charlotte's 25-year transportation plan and initiating "pedestrian friendly" land-use policies. He serves as President of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials (RMLO) organization and is a board member for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and chairman of its Environmental Committee. Prior to his public service, he held management positions with Duke Energy Corporation.

Mr. Eric Rodriguez, Director of Economic Mobility Initiative, National Council of La Raza

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is a nonprofit organization established in 1968 to improve life opportunities for Hispanic Americans. NCLR reaches more than three and a half million Hispanics annually, through its 270 formal affiliates and a broader network of more than 30,000 groups and individuals nationwide. As Director of the Economic Mobility Initiative at NCLR, Eric Rodriguez is responsible for planning, preparing, and coordinating policy analysis, legislative, and advocacy activities related to the economic, employment, and financial security of Latinos. He has written and spoken on a variety of economic issues and their impact on low-income Latinos.

Mr. David Winstead, Transportation Coalition Chair, Maryland Chamber of Commerce,

on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The United States Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million companies and organizations of every size, sector, and region. Last summer, the U.S. Chamber helped launch Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM), a broad-based coalition of more than 350 organizations, who have joined together to help educate lawmakers on the importance of improved mobility and safety to future economic growth. David Winstead is currently a partner with the law firm of Holland & Knight. From 1995-98, he served as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation. He has also served as President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and as a Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Charles Mathias. In addition to his government positions, Mr. Winstead has been a member of the law firm of Wilkes Artis, and a real estate financier for James W. Rouse & Company.

Mr. Wendell Cox, Visiting Fellow, Heritage Foundation

Wendell Cox is principal of Wendell Cox Consultancy, an international public policy firm, and specializes in urban policy, transportation, and demographics. He has provided consulting assistance to the U.S. Department of Transportation and to public authorities in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. His transportation experience includes service on the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC) and the Amtrak Reform Council. He is currently serving as a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

The Honorable Roy Kienitz, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning

The Department of Planning is the principal agency for matters concerned with the resources and development of the State of Maryland. Roy Kienitz joined the Department of Planning as Secretary on July 1, 2001. Prior to that, he was executive director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project. He was Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan from 1993-95, and worked on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works from1988-93, where he was instrumental in the development of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). He founded and chairs the executive committee of Smart Growth America and is a board member of the National Neighborhood Coalition.

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