Topic outline

  • About This Toolkit


    This toolkit provides APTA Business Members with a "soup-to-nuts" overview of the federal government's role in funding and regulating public transportation services, and covers the following:

    • The basics of the legislative process
    • Key transportation funding programs
    • Influencing the policy process

    In each section you'll find readings, links and/or videos designed to help you better understand all the interesting things that happen (or don't) in Washington, DC.

    The Political and Policy Environment

        In this document (from May 2017) you'll find information about all the ins and outs of the ever-changing political and policy environment

  • Introduction and Background

    In this section you'll find:

    • A basic overview of the legislative and budget process
    • A review of how the FAST act (legislation that updated surface transportation laws) moved through the process in 2015
    • A guide from APTA on the FAST Act
    • APTA's Footprint tool, designed to help you quickly identify legislators relevant to your business


    Do you remember Schoolhouse Rock? This section of the toolkit provides a more sophisticated overview that outlines the regulatory and appropriations processes as well. If you're feeling nostalgic, though, you can enjoy it through the link on the left!


    The FAST Act


    Everything in this toolkit must be considered in the context of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act. Signed into law in December, 2015, the FAST Act reauthorized and updated all surface transportation laws (i.e., as they relate to highways, public transportation, rail, freight, etc.) through 2020.

    The laws governing transportation services must be extended or updated based on deadlines set by the U.S. Congress. Major updates to the laws occur in a process called “reauthorization,” which occurs every five to ten years. The bills that move through the reauthorization process always have different titles (e.g., FAST, MAP-21, TEA-21, etc.), but they all serve to update and set funding for surface transportation programs. Hence, they are the legislative vehicles for extensive changes.

    To the left, you'll find a link to the Department of Transportation's comprehensive overview. It's intimidating, which is why we've provided summaries below!


    APTA's Footprint Tool

       APTA's Footprint tool is an important place to start. It will help ensure you're working with the right legislators--the ones who represent you and your business!

  • Public Transportation Funding and Policy Programs

    The federal commitment to public transportation is carried out through a variety of programs. In this section, you'll find information on where the money comes from, how it's spent and what other programs impact public transportation, such as the Commuter Tax Benefit. You can also learn more on APTA's GR page (click image to the left)

  • How to Impact Policy Decisions

    Now that you know about all the policies (probably more than you want), it's important to understand how to impact the process. Here you'll find information on how to do this, including:

    • Information on the Key Venues and Key Players for Public Transportation
    • A review of the four basics of effective advocacy
    • Telling a Local Story
    • APTA's CIG Report: Facts and figures to back up your arguments
    • Information on how to build long-term relationships with legislators (meeting with local staff and site visits)
    • A checklist for next steps

    Key Venues and Key Players (cheat sheets)

      Four Basics of Advocacy

       Telling Your Story

      Need information on how to tell the economic story? Use the facts and figures from APTA's CIG Report and Press Release

    Meeting with Local Staff

     Site Visits

       APTA Site Visit Review

      Your Yearly Advocacy Calendar