Monday, February 13, 2012

Obama's 2013 budget and rail

Taking a scan through the DoT summary:

• Provides $2.7 billion in 2013 and $47 billion over six years to develop high-speed passenger rail corridors and improve intercity passenger rail service to significantly enhance the national rail network.
...
Provides Dedicated Funding for High Speed Rail Investments. The Budget provides $47 billion over six years to fund the development of high-speed rail and other passenger rail programs as part of an integrated national strategy. This system will provide 80 percent of Americans with convenient access to a passenger rail system, featuring high-speed service, within 25 years. The proposal includes merging Amtrak’s stand-alone subsidies into the high-speed rail program as part of a larger, competitive System Preservation initiative.

American government being what it is, of course, the DoT summary appears to be contradicted by the overall. Go figure.

• Provide 80 percent of Americans with convenient access to a passenger rail system, featuring high-speed service, within 25 years. The Budget provides $47 billion over six years, plus $6 billion in 2012, to fund the development of high-speed rail and other passenger rail programs as part of an integrated national strategy. This includes merging Amtrak’s stand-alone subsidies into the high-speed rail program as part of a larger, competitive System Preservation Initiative.
•Establish a National Infrastructure Bank.
To direct Federal resources for infrastructure to projects that demonstrate the most merit and may be difficult to fund under the current patchwork of Federal programs, the President has called for the creation of an independent, non-partisan National Infrastructure Bank (NIB), led by infrastructure and financial experts. The NIB would offer broad eligibility and merit-based selection for large-scale ($100 million minimum) transportation, water, and energy infrastructure projects. Projects would have a clear public benefit, meet rigorous economic, technical and environmental standards, and be backed by a dedicated revenue stream. Geographic, sector, and size considerations would also be taken into account. The NIB would issue loans and loan guarantees to eligible projects. Loans issued by the NIB could be extended up to 35 years, giving the NIB the ability to be a “patient” partner side-by-side with State, local, and private co-investors. To maximize leverage from Federal investments, the NIB would finance no more than 50 percent of the total costs of any project.

So in the magical scenario where Obama gets his budget passed, we have an infrastructure bank and six billion this year for rail and 7.8 billion the next three years, but about a billion of it goes to Amtrak for operational subsidies.

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