The new federal law known as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), will fund surface transportation programs at $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, including $10.6 billion in FY2013 and $107 billion in FY2014 for public transportation. The legislation is designed to improve transit safety, state of good repair, performance and efficiency. It gives the Federal Transit Administration a significant new authority to establish safety standards for transit agencies; emphasizes replacing and restoring aging transportation infrastructure by setting up a needs-based program and new asset management requirements; and creates performance-based planning requirements.

Although only a two-year bill, MAP-21 clearly gives transit agency executives plenty to digest. In recent interviews with a number of them, I found many are relieved to have a two-year period of funding certainty. At the same time, they're looking forward to learning more details about the law's implementation once MAP-21's rule-making process is completed. As a result, its roll-out will be a major focus of the industry's attention in 2013, they said.

To learn more about the transit industry's outlook, read my story, "MAP-21 gives transit execs some certainty in 2013," in the December issue of Progressive Railroading.