Mass transit is getting a much-needed shot in the arm.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced $787 million to modernize and replace aging transit facilities and vehicles to meet the growing demand from millions of riders across the country.
This third round of federal funding will support 255 projects in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"By investing in the transit infrastructure people depend on to get where we need to go each day," LaHood said, "we will keep our economy moving forward well into the future."
Demand for dollars
Demand for the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) funds was overwhelming with requests from 836 projects totaling $4 billion in requests. In FY2010 and FY2011, FTA awarded a total of more than $1.8 billion in grants for hundreds of repair projects, primarily involving buses and bus facilities.
"For millions of Americans," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, "these investments mean that they may more reliably and safely get to work to earn a paycheck or get to daycare to pick up their children on time, or simply have new choices to enjoy the communities in which they live."
An interactive map of this year's projects, along with a searchable table, can be found here.
Examples of projects selected include:
New Jersey Transit: $76 million to upgrade its statewide bus fleet, to improve commuting times, improve air quality for state residents, and save on fuel by doubling the fleet of fuel-efficient buses. In addition, the state will put new hybrid coach buses on the road to improve the commute to New York City and start a new Bus Rapid Transit service between Camden County and downtown Philadelphia.
Maryland Department of Transportation: $40 million to replace Baltimore's 65-year old Kirk Division Bus Facility with two sustainable "green" buildings that will help reduce operating costs, create local construction jobs in Northeast Baltimore, and help more than 350 local transit employees maintain a growing fleet of new, energy-efficient buses that are now serviced elsewhere.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: $15 million to replace aging buses with new buses that will use compressed natural gas. These new buses will improve reliability for riders, leave a smaller environmental footprint and reduce fuel costs.
Capital Area Transportation Authority in East Lansing, Michigan: $6.3 million to redevelop a former Amtrak station near Michigan State University into the Capital Area Multi-Modal Gateway Project, which will improve bicycle and pedestrian access and connections to local bus and rail service.
City of Charlotte, North Carolina: $4 million to replace Charlotte Area Transit System diesel buses that have met or exceeded their useful lives with new hybrid technology buses that will reduce emissions, save on fuel costs, and reduce long term maintenance costs.