PennDOT Multimodal Transportation

By Gueorgui Tochev , Budget Analyst | 11 days ago
Transportation Analyst: Gueorgui Tochev, Budget Analyst

The deputate for Multimodal Transportation at PennDOT was created by Act 89 of 2013. Programs housed under its umbrella include Public Transportation, Rail, Freight, Ports, Waterways, Bicycle & Pedestrian, and Aviation. Unique to the deputate are the various funding sources that it utilizes. As we navigate through 2021/22, the General Assembly must consider the consequences of the reduction in the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s (PTC) annual payments. Statutorily dictated by Act 89 of 2013 and starting in 2022/23, PTC payments are reduced to $50 million annually. In turn, $450 million would be transferred from Sales and Use Tax (SUT) on motor vehicles, trailers, and semi-trailers. As the table below highlights, PTC payments support Public Transportation and while current law provides for backfilling that funding through SUT, practically speaking those present General Fund proceeds are already committed to other state programs and diverting them will lead to budgetary challenges. As discussed in the Transportation Revenue Options Commission’s (TROC) final report, the General Assembly must find ways to diversify the revenue stream supporting PennDOT and, given that current Public Transportation allocations fall short of required needs, provide additional support specifically for those needs.

 

The Multimodal deputate is comprised of several programs:

Public Transportation

Public Transportation offers an accessible alternative to gridlocked communities, individuals who do not own a vehicle, and ever-changing gas prices. From an environmental standpoint, it provides a cleaner alternative to driving, which also reduces traffic congestion. Currently, the commonwealth provides more than $1.5 billion annually to support Mass Transit. PennDOT manages operating and capital investments for 34 fixed-route systems. As defined by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), fixed-route refers to a transit service that is regularly scheduled and operates over a set route, including local bus, light & commuter rail services. Further, the department oversees 44 community transportation systems providing shared-ride services, 13 intercity bus routes, and Keystone Corridor & Pennsylvanian Amtrak services. To learn more about each county’s Public Transportation services and programs map, information can be found on department’s website.

As highlighted in TROC’s final report, public transportation’s current funding allocation does not fully provide for its needs. The importance of the program’s benefits should be an integral reason why its unfunded needs necessitate action by the General Assembly. As highlighted in TROC’s report, Public Transportation and Passenger Rail’s unfunded need amounts to $1.1 billion. Executive Authorizations that provide funding for Public Transportation include:

  • Mass Transit Operating provides funding for transit operations within Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF) as provided within Act 44 of 2007 and Act 89 of 2013. Both acts made changes to Title 74, specifically §1513. Financial assistance under this authorization, shall be matched by local or private cash funding in an amount not less than 15 percent of funds being provided, unless such match has been waived by the General Assembly for a particular fiscal year. Each qualifying organization receives funds under this authorization based on:
    1. Its base operating allocation multiplied by 1.0506
    2. An additional amount allocated based on distribution formula:
      1. 25 percent of award amount is based on the number of passengers such as:
        1. Total amount of funding multiplied by 0.25
        2. Product under (a) multiplied by total number of the local transportation organization’s number of passengers
        3. Product under (b) is divided by the total number of passengers for all local transportation organizations
      2. 10 percent of award amount based on the number of senior passengers to offset free fares for such passengers, such as:
        1. Total amount of funding multiplied by 0.10
        2. Product under (a) multiplied by total number of the local transportation organization’s number of senior passengers
        3. Product under (b) is divided by the total number of senior passengers for all local transportation organizations
      3. 35 percent of award amount based on the number of revenue vehicle hours, such as:
        1. Total amount of funding multiplied by 0.35
        2. Product under (a) multiplied by total number of the local transportation organization’s number of revenue vehicle hours
        3. Product under (b) is divided by the total number of revenue vehicle hours for all local transportation organizations
      4. 30 percent of award amount based on the number of revenue vehicle miles
        1. Total amount of funding multiplied by 0.30
        2. Product under (a) multiplied by total number of the local transportation organization’s number of revenue vehicle miles
        3. Product under (b) is divided by the total number of revenue vehicle miles for all local transportation organizations

  • Asset Improvement – includes funding for asset improvement activities within the Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF) as provided by Act 44 of 2007 and Act 89 of 2013 that amended Title 74 (Transportation). As Title 74 §1514 lays out, such activities encompass:
    1. Essential asset improvement projects
    2. Standard replacement of existing assets, that have exceeded their useful life
    3. Projects that extend the useful life of an asset
    4. Acquisition of new assets

It should be noted that asset improvement funds shall be matched by local or private cash funding in an amount not less than 3.33 percent of funds being provided, unless such match has been waived by the General Assembly for a particular fiscal year. Furthermore, funds under this authorization are distributed based on the following percentage basis:

  1. 69.4 percent to a Metropolitan Transportation Organization for the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia – SEPTA

  1. 22.6 percent to a local transportation organization existing under the Second-Class County Port Authority Act – Allegheny County Port Authority

  1. 8 percent to other local transportation organizations existing as primary providers of public transportation for counties not included in (1) or (2)

  • Transit Administration and Oversight – this executive authorization provides for administrative coordination, planning and support for Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF) operations. Statutory authority is included within Act 44 of 2007.

  • Mass Transit - the executive authorization provides grants to transit systems having prior Public Transportation Assistance Fund (PTAF) debt obligations, as authorized in §9511.13, Section 8 (B) of Act 44 of 2007.

  • Transfer to Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF) – the authorization provides for the transfer from PTAF to PTTF per Act 44 of 2007, §9511.13 Section 9 (1)(V).

  • Passenger Rail Grants - deliver support for intercity rail and rail grants that improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013. Funding is provided within the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

  • Older Pennsylvanian Shared Rides - provides funds to transportation agencies for the provision of Shared Ride Demand Responsive transportation at reduced fare for Older Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older. The statutory authority is the State Lottery Law. Annual expenditure authority is granted via executive authorization.

  • Transfer to Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF) – the authorization provides funding for the transfer from Lottery Fund to Public Transportation Trust Fund per Act 44 of 2007.

  • Capital Facilities Fund – dollars from this fund are utilized to meet financial costs of capital projects authorized by capital budget acts. Fund revenues are derived from the sale of general obligation debt, authorized within the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act (Act 67 of 2004), and interest earnings.

A majority of funding related to Public Transportation program comes from two sources (listed below). A quick overview of the revenue sources for each fund is displayed on the next page.

  • Public Transportation Trust Fund (PTTF)
  • Public Transportation Assistance Fund (PTAF)

Remaining programs receive the majority of funding through the Multimodal Transportation Fund and a small portion receive funding via the Motor License Fund.

Rail Freight

Few of us are aware of the fact that the Commonwealth leads the nation in terms of the number of operating railroads (65) and is near the top in terms of total track milage (> 5,600 miles). A full display of the vast network, managed by PennDOT, is available by viewing Pennsylvania’s railroad map. Grant funding is available through the Rail Freight authorization. As we look at current funding level, it’s worth noting that the program has additional unmet annual needs, totaling $10 million, as mentioned in TROC’s report.

  • Rail Freight Grantsthe executive authorization provides support for rail grants, that improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the Commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013. Funding is provided through Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Aviation

Pennsylvania ranks 16th in the nation as it relates to public aviation facilities, heliports, and seaplane bases. With its 124 airports, the aviation industry is home to more than 300,000 jobs. Furthermore, the commonwealth aids 228 private-use airports and 280 private-use helipads. Our program review also must include needs that are currently unmet. As highlighted by Transportation Revenue Option Commission, the aviation program has additional annual needs, which amount to $10 million. Line-items utilized by the program for funding purposes include:

  • Airport Development - aids airports throughout the state with grants of money to assist in the maintenance and improvement of Pennsylvania's airport facilities. The statutory authority for this appropriation is Act 120 of 1970, which established the Department of Transportation and Act 164 of 1984.

  • Aviation Grants - provide support for aviation grants which improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the Commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013. Funding is provided by the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Other Multimodal Grants

  • Transfer to Commonwealth Financing Authority - any funds not allocated to the Multimodal Transportation Fund for PennDOT shall be transferred to the Commonwealth Financing Authority to fund eligible programs to support public transportation, intercity bus, intercity rail, aviation, rail, ports and bicycle and pedestrian facilities options that improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013 §2104(4).

  • Statewide Program Grants - provides statewide programs grants to support public transportation, intercity bus, intercity rail. aviation, rail, ports and bicycle and pedestrian facilities options that improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013.

  • Ports and Waterways Grants – PennDOT’s ports program was organized to oversee and administer the issuance of state funding to PhilaPort, Port of Pittsburgh, and Port of Erie. Funding supports ports and waterways options for grants that improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the Commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013. The Transportation Revenue Options Commission’s final report identified an additional annual need of $10 million related to those grants.

  • Multimodal Administration and Oversight - funds support aviation, rail freight, passenger rail, ports and waterways options, and bicycle and pedestrian grants that improves the mobility and quality of life for urban Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013.

  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Grants - to provide support for bicycle and pedestrian facilities grants that improves the mobility and the quality of life for urban and rural Pennsylvanians and enhances economic activity throughout the commonwealth as required by Act 89 of 2013. The Transportation Revenue Options Commission identified an unmet annual need of $18 million, related to those grants.

  • PennPorts PRPA Debt Service – the commonwealth’s obligation to make payment on Philadelphia Regional Port Authority debt service as authorized in the General Appropriation Act of 2019 (Act 1-A).

 

As we conclude our discussion of Multimodal Transportation programs, the multitude of programs along with the benefits associated with those programs, should serve as a reminder to the General Assembly of the enormous social and economic ramifications of not adequately funding those programs.  

 
 

PennDOT Multimodal Transportation

By Gueorgui Tochev , Budget Analyst | 11 days ago
Transportation Analyst: Gueorgui Tochev, Budget Analyst

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