Federal Transit Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Statement before the
U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Crapo and Members of the Committee for the opportunity to come before you today as President Obama’s Nominee for Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.
Before I begin my formal remarks, I would like to acknowledge my husband, Rod McMillan and my daughter Nadine McMillan who are here today, as well as my daughter Madeline McMillan, who lives in Los Angeles.
Their support has been essential to my career, and I am thankful to them every day!
As you know I have been serving the American people as part of the FTA since July 2009 when the Administration appointed me to the position of Deputy Administrator.
It’s been a privilege to serve at a time when the demand for transit is on the rise.
But I want to stress that I have been a public servant my entire professional career.
I haven’t been enticed to work outside of the public sector, because I truly believe that merging a community’s vision with responsive, responsible government can make good (sometimes great!) things happen.
If confirmed, I look forward to working with YOU and all members of this committee to help deliver vital transit services to the public.
I know first-hand what transit can mean to the user – because I am one.
I grew up in Los Angeles, at a time when that city was the consummate "car capital".
As a child, I rode the bus with my grandmother and auntie who couldn't drive, and as I grew up, I used transit to get to summer school, much of high school, and my freshman year at UCLA.
When I moved to the SF Bay Area, I used the region’s extensive public transit systems whenever I could – and I appreciated the fact that I had a viable option to driving.
In the five years I have lived in Washington DC, I have not owned a car – and I realize every day both the advantages and tests that come with that choice.
That understanding fuels my passion for this work.
Across the country, Public Transit is asked to do many things
- to address congestion;
- to help move our economy;
- to provide real mobility to those whose options are limited by income, disability or age;
- to be the thread that links individuals to jobs, education and health care.
But like much of our nation’s transportation system, our transit infrastructure is fraying at the seams -- facing an $86 billion deficit in critical reinvestments in existing rails, trains, buses and stations.
At FTA, I have worked to address State of Good Repair, Safety, Emergency Relief, Strategic expansion and economic development.
Across the board, I have been able to build on my past 25+ years of experience working at the local and regional level, where I had to actually implement federal policy – and deal first-hand with the opportunities and challenges in doing so.
Bearing on that experience, I have implemented successful reforms within FTA aimed at making our processes and procedures more efficient, effective and transparent to those that need to use them – or are otherwise affected by them.
I have streamlined our audit process, greatly improved our processes for Civil Rights oversight, and I have worked to ensure FTA’s grant making system is more secure and accountable than ever.
Ultimately, FTA's customers are your constituents – they reside in every state, in big cities with huge networks of rail and buses; and in small rural and tribal communities where paratransit vans provide critical links to scattered services.
For me, the most informative and rewarding part of working at FTA has been traveling across the country to meet those riders and to talk to the devoted people who provide the transit services they rely on.
Whether they take the commuter train to work because they choose to, or take a late night bus because they must, those riders have a voice that deserves to be heard.
I will do the best job I can as FTA Administrator to listen – and to continue to partner with the transit industry and its customers through our federal programs.
And I look forward to working with all of you to do that, should you grant me that opportunity through confirmation.
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee, and I am happy to answer any questions.