Deputy Administrator McMillan's Remarks "As Prepared for Delivery"
Thank you for taking time to join us this week.
I want to thank FTA’s engineering office for arranging our third SGR roundtable.
I hope we all use this opportunity to sharpen our understanding of the SGR challenges facing our industry, and come away with an enhanced skill set to address the issues head-on.
I think our tour of MARTA’s SGR hot-spots this afternoon will help set the stage for the presentations to follow.
And I think the presentations we’ll hear from four of the six agencies selected to participate in FTA’s pilot transit asset management program will be especially informative. You’ll have a chance to learn how these peer agencies are planning to tackle an array of information, project, cost, and forecasting challenges related to asset management.
I can’t emphasize enough the extent to which this entire issue – state of good repair and transit asset management – has taken center stage at FTA. Last week, Peter Rogoff participated in a high-profile tour of the SEPTA system in Philadelphia along with Senator Bob Casey and other dignitaries. The event was widely covered in the mainstream press—which rightfully called attention to the serious infrastructure needs of SEPTA and other transit systems. I want to share with you a striking fact that Peter shared during that tour:
The loss of even 2% or 3% of passengers on big Northeastern transit systems in regions like Philadelphia and New York—and we might add Atlanta—would more than offset the gains in transit ridership on new systems in the entire western half of the U.S.
I think that’s a bold and stark reflection of the situation we’re in, with respect to striking the right balance between the infrastructure we already have, and the infrastructure we want to build.
No wonder, then, that one of FTA’s core principles, for SGR, is to rebalance our priorities between preservation and expansion to ensure we pursue a sustainable investment strategy.
Two other core principles I’ll mention:
•First, using research and pilot programs to better understand how asset management is done today, and document best practices for improvement. We’re still in the information-gathering phase on this and expect to learn a great deal to help us set the right course.
•And second, keeping the lines of communication open between FTA and transit agencies. We appreciate the tremendous response we’ve had from industry engineers and capital asset managers. Your ongoing participation is vitally important as we share results and help to implement solutions.
Going forward, we have new challenges to address, including:
•First, we must communicate clearly and effectively with our stakeholders through timely analysis and cost-effective data collection. With that in mind, FTA will shortly release a report to Congress on our SGR initiative.
•Second, altering our mindset so that we learn to emphasize effective reinvestment strategies for our existing infrastructure—rather than focusing so much of our planning efforts on new capacity.
•Third, developing standard measures for benchmarking SGR.
•And fourth, working through our annual budgeting process to establish an SGR formula grant program that will enable us to lay the groundwork for data collection, asset management plan requirements, and oversight procedures. The President’s 2012 budget request takes an initial run at this—but we’re not yet certain of the outcome.
President Obama fully supports our efforts to bring more and better transportation choices to our communities.
He understands, as do all of us at FTA and DOT, that some tough choices lie ahead.
I’m grateful to all of you for working with us, and for being our partners, as we find creative, innovative ways to invest our limited federal transportation dollars wisely and well.