Monday, May 14, 2007

Revised Hamos Bill Emerges

Representative Julie Hamos has released a revised draft of her so-called RTA reform bill (HB 1841).

The draft amended bill is here. The summary is here. The revised bill will be discussed at the third meeting of the RTA Reform Workgroup meeting this Wednesday, May 16 at 8 a.m. in Room 413 of the Stratton Building. You can also email comments to Representative Hamos at julie@juliehamos.org Email comments must be sent by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

(It sure would be nice if someone supplied their notes from the second meeting of the Workgroup as well as of this upcoming meeting. Minutes of the first meeting are here.)

Here are some highlights (references are to RTA Act):
  • The RTA is explicitly given the powers "set goals, objectives and standards" for the service boards, "develop performance measures," "allocate operating and capital funds," and "coordinate the provision of public transportation and the investment in public transportation facilities." (2.01(a))
  • While the service boards retain the power to determine the "level, nature and kind of public transportation" in their service areas, they must do so "in order to meet the plans, goals, objectives and standards" adopted by the RTA. (2.01(a))
  • The RTA shall audit each service board at least once every five years. (2.01(b))
  • The RTA shall adopt a stategic plan every five years. The strategic plan "shall establish the process and criteria by which proposals for capital improvements . . . will be evaluated by the [RTA] for inclusion in the Five-Year Capital Program" and establish performance standards. The RTA may establish "sub-regional or corridor plans." The RTA has "sole responsibility" for conducting alternatives analyses and preliminary environmental assessments on capital projects where multiple service boards are potential service providers and cost is over $25 million. (2.01a)
  • The RTA gets 10 percent all new money for a "Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement Fund." (2.01c)
  • The RTA takes charge of "coordinated and consolidated sales, marketing, advertising and public information programs." (2.05(c))
  • The RTA Executive Director resolves fare, surface overlap, transfer policy and other such disputes between service boards, subject to veto only by a supermajority vote of RTA board. (2.12)
  • The RTA prescribes the information that the service boards must submit during the annual budget process and the service board budgets must be "consistent with the goals and objectives adopted by the [RTA] in the Strategic Plan." If the RTA rejects a service board's budget the service board loses 25 percent of its statutory sales tax allocation. The RTA board also has line item veto power over service board budgets. (4.11(b))

3 comments:

pjs said...

It seems to me that one key to reigning in the spending of the service boards is to focus their activities on delivery of service and not capital expansion. To do this, it would make sense to make the RTA the ONLY entity capable of receiving federal funds for new starts. This would reduce the unnecessary competition to have the BIGGEST new project (Circle Line, STAR line) and instead let service boards compete by gaining new riders.

The current amendment addresses the RTA's ability to approve capital projects and that is good but why not take it a step further and preclude the service boards from independently lobbying Washington for dollars and racking up an unprecedented total of $8billion in new start projects?

jackonthebus said...

I had previously mentioned that I had sent comments to Julie Hamos about HB 1841, and am glad that one, in effect, was accepted--the rewriting of section 2.12a. The bill's prior language that the RTA may intervene and arbitrate the dispute was inconsistent in part with the old mediation provision, and, it turns out, would not have superseded the requirement that any arbitration decision would need to be supported by 9 RTA board members. Under the new language, the Executive Director's decision is final unless it is overturned by 9 members. I'm sure that the existing requirement was why Pace didn't push the issue of CTA competing with it on Harlem Ave. past the ineffective mediation stage.

It also looks like this bill incorporates some of Rep. Colvin's HB 520, that that is also good.

Moderator said...

Jackonthebus--

You the Man!

PJS--

The federal government in its wisdom seems willing to fund transit system expansions. Shouldn't the region stretch itself to tap in these resources and lay the foundation for an expanded and improved transit system? Why leave money on the table and let every city the size of Lima, Ohio build light rail system?

After all, this region is expected to grow and transit systems have environmental and quality of life benefits--but only, and this is an important caveat, when they are accompanied by transit-supportive land-use policies that result in high density and plenty of transit-dependent people.

Why not go for the gusto in the hope that somewhere, somehow operating funding will keep up with the expansion in the transit system?

I'm sure you have some good reasons for not doing so. Let's hear them.