Campaign Promises

Departments -> Transportation -> Public/Commuter Transportation

Public/Commuter TransportationGrade
TR-6 The Promise: "...will reform the tax code to make benefits for driving and public transit or ridesharing equal."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Strengthening America's Transportation Infrastructure" dated 10/09/08.
Status:Source is cited for confirmation of exact promise wording only, as it existed before original "When/Where" campaign document was deleted from archival websites.

Section 1151 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 is entitled "Increased exclusion amount for commuter transit benefits and transit passes."

For CY2009 the maximum monthly pre-tax contribution for mass transit was $120.00, and $230.00 for parking. However the $120.00 transit expense was increased to $230.00 by the Treasury Department under the ARRA, signed into law by President Obama on 02/17/09. This brought parity between those who drove their own vehicles to a public parking lot and then commuted to work, and those who relied totally on public transit assets. However, this incentive was temporary and expired at the end of CY2011.

Starting in CY2012, employers were authorized to provide employees up to $125 per month in tax-free transit and vanpool benefits and qualified parking benefits went up to $240 per month. These rates went up to $130 and $250 per month respectively in CY2014.

As a result of a tax deal concluded in Congress on 12/16/15, the playing field leveled out to $255 per month for both drivers and transit riders. The tax break for those who use their bicycles to work is $20 per month.

This promise was fulfilled.
TR-7 The Promise: "...will double the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program to ensure that additional federal public transportation dollars flow to the highest-need communities..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Strengthening America's Transportation Infrastructure" dated 10/09/08.
Status:The FY2009 apportionment for the JARC program by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) was $183.1M. The FTA's apportionment in FY2010 for the JARC program was $68M. The promised doubling of funds for this grant program did not occur in President Obama's first years in office.

President Obama's FY2011 budget proposal included $166.6M for the JARC program, still a long way from doubling the baseline FY2009 apportionment of $183.1M. Of this requested amount, Congress apportioned only $69.7M for JARC in FY2011.

For FY2012, the JARC program was apportioned $95M of the Federal Transit Administration's budget.

On 10/1/13, the JARC Program was repealed by Congress under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

This promise was not fulfilled.
TR-8 The Promise: "...will help the New Orleans area develop regional transit partnerships so that public transit can be integrated across parish lines, providing seamless transportation options, including a possible light rail line to connect New Orleans and Baton Rouge through the petrochemical corridor in between."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Rebuilding the Gulf Coast and Preventing Future Catastrophes", dated 09/11/08.
Status:Louisiana House Bill 1410, passed by the House on 05/18/10 and the Senate on 06/17/10 allows two or more Louisiana cities or parishes to establish rail compacts as a way to help launch intrastate railway or rapid transit systems. This bill was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on 06/30/10 with no known assistance from the Obama Administration.

Previously, Governor Jindal declined to apply for $300M in stimulus money to start a New Orleans-Baton Rouge light rail project, because annual operating costs of $18M could not be supported by the state.

For a few years after Hurricane Katrina in CY2004, "LA Swift," funded to the tune of $2.3M annually by the Department of Transportation, operated as a commuter bus service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In CY2013, the federal government asked Louisiana to provide $750K annually as its share of the costs for operating LA Swift. Louisiana's Governor Jindal declined and the commuter bus service ended.

At a cost of $60M, $45M of which were federal funds, New Orleans started operating the less-than-a-mile-long Loyola Avenue streetcar which did little to improve inner-city transit. Some called it the streetcar "from nowhere to nowhere."

The New Orleans inner transit system and its ability to interconnect with other parishes was worse by end-CY2016 than it was before Hurricane Katrina

While a passenger rail system linking New Orleans to Baton Rouge and other points is still being planned by Governor Jindal's successor since 01/16, Governor John Bel Edwards, no specific/formal transit partnership between the Government of the State of Louisiana and the federal government is known to have been formed during the Obama Administration other than grants provided under the "Partnership for Sustainable Communities" and similar programs.

This promise was not fulfilled.