Surface Transportation Funding and Programs Under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94)

On December 4, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94). The act authorized spending on federal highway and public transportation programs, surface transportation safety and research activities, and rail programs for five years, through September 30, 2020. The act’s authorization totaled roughly $305 billion for FY2016 through FY2020. This included $233 billion for highways and highway safety, $61 billion for public transportation, and more than $10 billion for Amtrak. Most of the funding for surface transportation bills has been drawn from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) since its creation in 1956, but the principal revenue source for the HTF, federal motor fuel taxes, has not generated sufficient revenue to cover HTF outlays since 2008. To fill this shortfall, Congress has relied on Treasury general fund transfers to make up the difference. Although Congress was unable to agree on a long-term solution to the HTF revenue issue, the FAST Act identified roughly $70 billion in budgetary offsets to support general fund transfers sufficient to pay for the five-year bill. The FAST Act builds upon the many programmatic changes made in the previous multiyear reauthorization bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112- 141). The act also continues initiatives intended to increase program efficiency through performance-based planning and the streamlining of project development. Among FAST Act’s major attributes are: 1) $225 billion authorized from the HTF over five years, an average of $45 billion annually, for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) programs; 2) $61 billion authorized from the HTF and the general fund, an average of $12.2 billion per year, for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs; 3) a major redirection of funding toward highway freight projects via a new formula program and a competitive grant program; 4) direct funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program of $275 million, down from $1 billion in FY2015; 5) competitive grant component added to the Bus and Bus Facilities Program; 6) provisions on intercity passenger rail transportation included in a surface transportation act for the first time; and 7) no project earmarks. The FAST Act does not increase motor fuels taxes or provide another sustainable source of revenues to be paid into the HTF. Unless new revenue sources are found, Congress will face projections of a large gap between HTF tax receipts and spending plans when it begins debating the reauthorization of the FAST Act in 2020.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 33p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01711176
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: R44388
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 17 2019 10:42AM