Trump Administration Continues Funny Business with Transit Funding

Photo: Valley Metro
Photo: Valley Metro

Almost $3 billion in transit funding that is supposed to be improving transit for American taxpayers is instead languishing in a strange state of political purgatory in the Trump administration’s Federal Transit Administration.

Congress has allocated about $4 billion for new transit projects since 2017. But the federal Department of Transportation has handed out just 30 percent of the available funds. About $2.7 billion remains to be distributed to more than two dozen cities that are expecting grants.

As a result, many projects are experiencing costly delays, said the advocacy group Transportation for America. The Indianapolis Red Line bus rapid transit, for example, has reportedly been delayed by the federal funding slowdown.

The Federal Transit Administration, T4A says, is “failing to administer the grant program in good faith and in a timely fashion.”

Graphic: Transportation for America
Graphic: Transportation for America

It’s unclear if the delay is caused by dysfunction or by ideology. But the Trump Administration has targeted the Capital Improvement Grants program, which provides the bulk of the federal funding for large new transit projects.

In its previous two budgets, the Trump Administration called for eliminating the program. Its most recent budget instead called for reducing it severely. The attack is based on the right-wing talking point that transit is an inherently local concern — and therefore not deserving of federal funds — while highway repair and construction are national issues.

The Administration did release some funding near the end of last year for projects in Los Angeles and Albuquerque — but is still woefully behind.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation under Secretary Elaine Chao’s leadership has empowered President Trump’s strange crusade against transit funding,” Transportation for America’s Sean Doyle wrote in the group’s most recent update.

The Federal Transit Administration is facing an end-of-year deadline for administering 80 percent of the money. The deadline was specially written into a recent appropriations bill to force the agency to issue the money Congress allocated it.

Among the projects waiting on funding are Milwaukee’s East-West bus rapid transit, Minneapolis’s Orange Line bus rapid transit, Los Angeles’s Purple Line Subway Extension and Seattle’s Center City Connector Streetcar.

In the past, the Federal Transit Administration has denied it is withholding money from projects and blamed applicants for the delays — or denied there has been any delay.

  • Max Wyss

    Dysfunction or ideology? Looks to me (from far, far away) like a chicken and egg question…

  • Larry Littlefield

    It’s generational.

    In New York DeBlasio and Cuomo have done the same. Where is the money promised for the 2015 to 2019 MTA capital plan? Spending has exploded on everything else. And whatever they are proposing now won’t be available by the end of FY 2020.

    They simply agreed with each other to lie. Just as the FTA is lying.

  • Trump has probably never ridden a train in his entire life. Big, pampered baby. Human equivalent of a veal.

  • Federal Transit Admn

    It’s sad that Angie Schmitt of Streetsblog did not check the accuracy of her facts BEFORE posting and recycling outdated and inaccurate information. If she had, she’d know that on May 15, 2018, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a $75 million grant agreement with the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo) for the Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. Contrary to Ms. Schmitt’s claim that the Administration is delaying transit projects, the FTA continues to evaluate and advance projects in the CIG program, considering each project on its individual merits while demonstrating good governance consistent with discretion afforded in federal law.

  • Guest

    Just FYI I think they have put out all their money for new starts out pretty much for fy 18 except for the Minneapolis project. They are only yet to dispense the small starts funding and there’s a bunch of core capacity money that’s eventually supposed to go to Gateway I presume. Fy 17 is fully dispensed and they only just got fy19. So just the 700m for 18 is unallocated .

    You can see here:

    https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/apportionments/archived-apportionments

  • Nicholas L

    Nothing stopping us from all calling our Representatives.

  • This article is written from a left perspective and facts were not checked first thank God there’s an adult at the helm…..

  • Bobbie Garnet Bees
  • Bobbie Garnet Bees

    Kellyanne Conjob, is that you? I was wondering where you disappeared to…… https://media1.giphy.com/media/3o7TKSPNwYpth84S0E/giphy.gif

  • Frank Kotter

    You created a counterfeit account to post this single comment? Something wrong with your actual identity? Bizarre.

  • Alicia

    Which facts are incorrect?

  • Read the comments to the article, below.

  • Hammond Ecks

    It’s unclear if the delay is caused by dysfunction or by ideology

    Why is that an “or”?

  • Devin Resett

    Your comment is misleading. While the final portion of the grant to Indianapolis was finally delivered in May 2018, it was an entire year delay from when the initial portion of the grant was released. So, yes, the Trump administration did drag its feet on issuing appropriated funds, which then caused the Indianapolis Red Line project to be delayed since construction could not start until the final portion of the federal construction grant was released. It is sad that you created a phony account to attempt to defend an incompetent and corrupt administration by spreading misinformation.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Is impersonating a Federal agency or official a crime? You would think they would at least use a higher quality graphic.

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    Pretty sure Trump has not been kept in a crate all his life and fed an iron-deficient diet. Though he does have unusual coloring, so perhaps you’re on to something.

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