Policy and Legislative Services

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3-9-2015 Federal Transportation Briefing

Passenger Rail Reauthorization
On March 4, by a vote of 316-101, the full House passed HR 749, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA). As originally reported out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, HR 749 was nearly identical to a bill reported out last year but which did not make it to the floor. However, the following amendments to HR 749 were adopted before passage in the House:

• Ensure that socially and economically disadvantaged business requests for proposals are considered for station development opportunities
• Add veteran-owned small businesses to the participation study required
• Require a study on an express service and other improvements on the NEC
• Require each state to develop a grade crossing action plan identifying specific solutions for improving safety at crossings, including highway-rail grade crossing closures or grade
• separations; and focusing on crossings that have experienced recent grade crossing accidents or multiple accidents, or are at high risk for accidents
• Require GAO to submit to Congress a report evaluating the effectiveness of the FRA’s 2005 rule on the use of locomotive horns at rail crossings
• Clarify that passengers using or transporting non-motorized transportation are to be considered in the Amtrak Office of Inspector General’s report on boarding procedures.

Overall, the four-year bill reauthorizes Amtrak and provides funds at, basically, current levels. Among the reforms included in the bill are provisions that: direct Northeast Corridor revenue to improvements in that corridor only; require additional transparency and cost-effectiveness; allow for private investment involving Amtrak-owned facilities; and modify the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program.
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Funding/authorization expiration dates:
Sept. 30, 2015 – transportation appropriations (HR 83, T-HUD)
Sept. 30, 2019 - water resource and development programs (WRRDA of 2014)
Sept. 30, 2013 - passenger rail and freight safety programs (PRIIA of 2008)
May 31, 2015 - surface transportation programs (MAP-21 extension, in HR 5021)
Sept. 30, 2015 - aviation programs (Air Transportation Modernization & Safety Improvement Act, 2012)

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