April 2, 2019

What the FAST Act Means for the Transit Industry

Clever Devices Chief Customer Office, Buddy Coleman met with legislators on Capitol Hill last week regarding re-authorization of funding for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act. The FAST Act provides long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment. The Act is currently set to lapse on September 30, 2020.

We sat down with Buddy to learn more about transit funding and why it matters- here’s what you need to know:

Why is the re-authorization of FAST Act funds so important?

Funding is hugely influential in determining human capital needs within the transit industry. Legislation like the FAST Act provides funding certainty, arming public transit agencies and private companies alike with the confidence to allocate funds to hire necessary personnel. Without funding assurances, it can be difficult for companies like Clever Devices to align hiring goals with anticipated projects, ultimately causing a lag in innovation, production, and efficiency for the transit industry as a whole. Reauthorizing the FAST Act would enable continued progress within the transit agency.

What is Clever Devices’ involvement with legislation? 

Clever Devices supports and attends the annual APTA legislative conference. While at the conference we make sure to go up on the hill and speak with legislators about the need for long term stable funding for transit.

In addition, Clever Devices has supported and attended the last three business member fly-ins. During the fly in, business members hit The Hill to meet with legislators whose track record shows that they don’t support transit initiatives. We talk to these legislators about the positive economic benefits to the private sector and the jobs that are created by transit funding. Public transportation is a $68-billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs.  In fact, every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns.

Public Transit is in a paradigm shift- what is Clever Devices doing to help guide transit agencies?

We’ve seen a steady increase in the use of ride-hailing apps due to convenience over the past few years. It’s now more important than ever for the transit industry to adapt to riders’ changing needs, which means we as an industry need to become mobility managers and focus on the individual and not just the masses. Interactive solutions like BusTime allow transit agencies to keep passengers updated in real-time, adding a much-needed dose of convenience to the public transit experience. At Clever Devices we’re committed to working side by side with transit agencies to build technology that compliments changing mobility trends. The shifting mobility landscape presents new opportunities for growth and innovation.

What happens next?

The next step is to participate in the APTA Business Member Board of Governors Advocacy Engagement project, which is designed to help APTA Business Members build long-term relationships with Senators and their staff. These relationships are essential to effectively advocate for important APTA Business Member priorities, such as adequately funding the Highway Trust Fund (Trust Fund) which provides critical funding for Federal public transportation programs.

There is a real opportunity in the 116th Congress to address the solvency of the Trust Fund. Legislators continue to discuss options for moving forward on a comprehensive infrastructure package. Senate and House leaders from both parties, the Administration, and other transportation stakeholders all recognize the need for a substantial investment in repairing our nation’s infrastructure, including public transportation.

It is essential that proposed solutions focus on increasing revenues to the Trust Fund. Short-term solutions are not enough. We need a permanent fix to provide desperately needed funding for public transportation and passenger rail infrastructure.