The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced grant awards, totaling $25 million, that will help provide Americans in communities across the country with better transit service, including expanded routes, Bus Rapid Transit, and on-demand service. This is in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to help restore and improve services that had been affected.
"Throughout the pandemic, our transit agencies and the essential workers who operate them have kept this country moving – ensuring people could continue to get to work, school, medical appointments, and more," said Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Transportation Secretary. "Now, thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, they will have the resources they need to better serve riders across the country."
The grants are being provided through the FTA's Route Planning Restoration Project. This is in response to the changes in travel patterns that were affected by the pandemic. The grants will help transit agencies with planning projects to increase ridership and reduce travel times. The program will also support local efforts to increase the quality and frequency of transit services for low-income riders, and those in disadvantaged communities who may need more options to travel to jobs, school, and healthcare. Eligible recipients included any Urbanized Area Formula Grant recipient that had reduced transit service on or after January 20, 2020, due to COVID-19.
"The Route Restoration Program will greatly assist transit agencies nationwide in eliminating barriers and increasing equity in underserved communities," said Nuria Fernandez, FTA Administrator. "COVID-19 drastically altered how transit systems operate, and these funds will provide an opportunity for them to take a fresh look at their systems and routes, to ensure that everyone has access to transportation."
Examples selected to receive Fiscal Year 2021 funding include:
- The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia, will receive $500,000 to identify, study, and develop transportation improvements for the North Philadelphia West neighborhood between 18th and 33rd Street, and Lehigh and Girard Avenue, an area of roughly two square miles. This area is served by nine bus routes, with service concentrated on seven primary transit corridors.
- The City of Jackson, Mississippi, will receive $1 million to establish the JTRAN New Bus Network Project, to improve public transportation, provide more flexibility, frequency, and coverage to areas of the City of Jackson that are currently under-served. The JTRAN New Bus Network Project will be designed to better link under-served communities to critical services.
- The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (GoMetro) will receive $780,100 to plan for and develop new Bus Rapid Transit corridors, which will improve service and reliability, in particular for low-income riders and those living in disadvantaged communities.
- The City of Fairfield, California, will receive $1 million to examine restructuring its transit service in Fairfield's Cordelia area from traditional fixed route to on-demand microtransit, which will reduce wait and travel times, increase access to an expanding area and improve overall public transportation usage.
Source: United States Department of Transportation