Public Transit CEOs Highlight Urgent Need to Invest in the Nation’s Aging Public Transportation Systems during National Infrastructure Week

- Washington, DC.
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CEOs of large, mid-size and small public transportation systems sounded the alarm for the urgent need to increase infrastructure investment in one of America’s most valuable assets – its public transportation systems.  The national press conference call was a part of this year’s National Infrastructure Week (NIW), which is being held May 16 – 23. 

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) cited an $86 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and replacement needs with more than 40 percent of buses and 25 percent of rail transit assets in marginal or poor condition, according to the latest data from 2013.  At the same time, with ridership increasing by 37 percent since 1995, public transit systems are challenged to increase service and capacity.   

“After decades of inadequate investment, the American public transportation infrastructure is crumbling,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Chair Valarie J. McCall, who serves on the board of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority(GCRTA).  “This neglect demands attention at all levels of government so that public transit can continue to help grow communities and businesses.”  

In addition to McCall, the following leaders detailed the challenges with inadequate infrastructure investment:  Richard White, APTA Acting President and CEO; Joseph Calabrese, President and CEO of GCRTA; Dorval Carter, President and CEO of the Chicago Transit Authority; Jeff Hamm, Executive Director and CEO of the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Authority (WA); Jeffery Knueppel, General Manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; Dennis Martin, Interim Executive Director, NJ Transit; Ellen McLean, CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County; Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency; and Paul Weidefeld, General Manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.  Edward Mortimer, Executive Director of Transportation Infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also participated.    

“As public transportation has experienced tremendous growth over the last two decades, public transit systems are struggling to maintain aging and outdated infrastructure while at the same time being challenged to expand capacity,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard White.  “While Congress’s passage of the federal FAST Act was a step in the right direction, the job is still not done because we are woefully behind in investing in our infrastructure. Estimates to meet current national public transportation demand will require a capital investment of $43 billion annually over six years by all levels of government.  Currently, the U.S. invests $17.7 billion annually.”  

A number of other public transportation agencies nationwide are participating in NIW as members of APTA, which is an affiliate member.  National Infrastructure Week is the largest, most diverse, non-partisan coalition of organizations dedicated to strengthening America by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. This year’s fourth annual National Infrastructure Week brings together America’s business, labor and policy-making leadership, and it includes more than 100 affiliate organizations from all sectors of America’s economy and society.  

Below are brief quotes from participants in the National Infrastructure Week press conference call held by APTA.  In addition, we are providing fact sheets for some of the systems which highlight the impact of American disinvestment in America’s public transportation infrastructure.  For more information about NIW, go to

Quotes from press conference call participants:

Joseph Calabrese, CEO/General Manager, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

“In Cleveland, we currently have $500 million in unfunded infrastructure needs in track, signal, propulsion power, rail car and bus needs. Our system is safe, but inadequate funding to renew and modernize our infrastructure, is making it harder and harder to guarantee the safety and reliability of our system.”
Dorval Carter, President, Chicago Transit Authority
“Since 2011, Chicago under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made unprecedented levels of investment in the CTA – from new and expanded rail stations to fleet modernization,” said CTA President Dorval Carter. “But while we’ve made great strides, continued support at the federal level is critical in bringing all of CTA’s aging infrastructure into the 21st century.”
Jeffrey Knueppel, General Manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority 
“Legacy transportation systems like ours are under significant pressure due the conflicting trends of aging infrastructure and record ridership. The quality of life and economic vitality of our region depend upon our ability to have the resources to efficiently meet these challenges.”
Jeff Hamm, Executive Director/CEO, C-TRAN
“Most small and mid-size transit agencies are working hard to be innovative, but that is not enough. Many are being forced to trade off against reduced service, operating efficiency and, potentially, safety.”
Dennis J. Martin, Interim Executive Director, NJ TRANSIT
“Transit is critical to New Jersey and the New Jersey-New York region, to our economy, to the environment and to our citizens’ quality of life,” said Dennis J. Martin, Interim Executive Director, NJ TRANSIT. “Steady investment in our infrastructure is key to advancing the kind of innovative and safety-focused projects necessary for the successful operation of a major transportation system in the United States.”  
Ellen McLean, CEO, Port Authority of Allegheny County
“The greatest transit infrastructure challenge for Allegheny County is addressing the need for added capacity so that we can meet the true demand for public transportation in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. Like many other transit systems, Port Authority cannot add significant levels of service or expand its reach without finding a sustainable solution that addresses infrastructure needs.”
Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager and CEO, The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority 
“Metro’s infrastructure challenges are rooted in decades of deferred maintenance and underinvestment.  We cannot wait any longer. Getting Metro back to a state of good repair will be challenging and require sacrifice, but it will not end there. Maintaining the system in the future is a multi-billion dollar investment that requires dedicated funding to keep Metro on track.”
Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
“Infrastructure may not be sexy when it works, but in times of bridge, roadway or rail failures, it gets its fair share of headlines. I for one, want to keep this topic boring through key investments, proper coordination and improved transportation options for everyone.” 
Ed Mortimer, Executive Director, Transportation Infrastructure, United States Chamber Of Commerce 
“Public Transportation must continue to be an important option in solving our infrastructure crisis. Businesses nation-wide determine where they locate based on transportation options available.  For a growing amount of communities, public transportation is a critical component of the transportation solution.”

About American Public Transportation Association (APTA)Apta logo

APTA is the leading force in advancing public transportation. Their mission is to strengthen and improve public transportation. APTA serves and leads its diverse membership through advocacy, innovation and information sharing. APTA and its members and staff work to ensure that public transportation is available and accessible for all Americans in communities across the country.

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