On July 6th, I was lucky enough to be present at the White House ceremony where President Obama signed legislation that accomplishes the important goal of rebuilding America's infrastructure and keeping thousands of workers on the job.
Indeed, the most significant aspect of the 2012 Transportation Bill (HR 4348), Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), is that it will help create jobs and projects. Over the past few years I have seen the decline of infrastructure across the country, and the bill gives us a chance to repair the infrastructure and provide maintenance for existing roadways, bridges and tunnels. It also gives us a chance to create new transportation systems, i.e. roads and public transportation projects, all of which will create jobs.
It’s also of significance to Cubic Transportation Systems in that all of our transit agency customers in the United States currently receive federal funding, and this bill will continue to provide them with the funding that they need to start new projects themselves as well as any prospective clients who may have needed funding.
We strive to advocate for our customers to ensure that they continue to receive as much federal assistance as possible so that they can continue to innovate and provide better experiences for the riders in the areas they serve.
The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) has also been a huge advocate for a number of years. There are a lot of historically underutilized businesses that continue to receive funding on various projects now, whether they are public transit projects or roadway projects, COMTO represents a lot of those businesses and serves as an advocate for them on Capitol Hill. We want to see funding for transportation, and the next step is to ensure that there is an equal playing field for individuals in various roles and jobs in the transportation industry. We also represent minority owned business owners who should be able to get their fair share of business opportunities and any funding that continues the progression of construction and public transportation projects.
I have mixed feelings about where we go next since the current bill that just passed is only good for about 27 months, we’re already thinking beyond that period and will be back in the position we were in over the course of the past year, looking for the authorization of another transportation bill. We have had some great transportation bills in the past and I hope that we can reach some historical levels of funding that will continue to support public transportation, roadways and the whole nine yards.
We shouldn’t become complacent with the passing of the bill, but recognize going forward that we must continue to go to Capitol Hill and advocate for funding, stressing the importance that when this 27 months are up, we are already planning to address future funding. The biggest challenge will be to continue to make sure that there is a source to actually pay for the bill, which is currently primarily funded by the gas tax, for which there has not been an increase for a number of years. I think this is something we seriously need to consider as we look at how we fund future transportation bills.
If it hadn’t been for COMTO, I wouldn’t have been at the bill signing on Friday. We received an invitation from the White House, which I believe is due to the amount of work that COMTO has done over the past few years. The president of COMTO, Julie Cunningham, was on the President’s Transportation Transition Team, and she has made inroads both on Capitol Hill and with the current administration because of the work she has done along with the help of the COMTO board of directors. Certainly as an organization we have made significant strides, and Cubic has been a huge supporter of COMTO for a number of years. I look forward to watching that relationship as it continues to grow.