US pledges £250m aid to transit jobs

Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg is allocating funds to projects in 31 US states
UTC / June 23, 2021
By Ben Spencer
US transportation secretary Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grants American Rescue Plan Act
Funding is provided under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (© Dmitry Sunagatov |

US has announced $250 million in funding to advance transit projects and protect the jobs of workers involved in their construction. 

The funds will be allocated to 22 transit projects that are located in 31 US states that in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) programme, which provides funding for major transit infrastructure capital investments.

Buttigieg says: "Public transit opens new opportunities for people, and delivers environmental and economic benefits to communities. We are delighted to provide support for these projects, which will help communities recover from the pandemic and bring public transit to more people in the months and years to come."

Funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will cover 'smart starts' projects under construction, including $17.4m to Valley Metro for the Tempe Streetcar project.

The three-mile streetcar with 14 stations and six vehicles will connect downtown Tempe, Arizona State University, and the emerging employment corridor of Rio Salado Parkway, which connects existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will receive $21.9m for the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The two-mile line includes nine side-platform stations with low-floor bus boarding and passenger shelters, as well as traffic signal priority, pedestrian improvements and the purchase of new buses.

The Jacksonville Transit Authority will use $2.4m for the First Coast Flyer Southwest Corridor BRT project, a 12.9-mile line from the Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville, via Florida State College-Jacksonville (Kent Campus), to the Orange Park Mall in Clay County.

Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Allocations also cover small starts projects in development, including a $26.1m pledge to the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority's West Valley Connector BRT project.

The 19-mile zero-emission line with 21 stations will connect the city of Pomona in Los Angeles County with the cities of Montclair, Ontario, and Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County. It will operate as part of Omnitrans' sbX BRT service.

Indygo (Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation) will receive $12m for the Purple Rapid Transit Line. The 15.2-mile electric vehicle BRT line between downtown Indianapolis and downtown Lawrence.

The Wake Bus Rapid Transit New Bern Avenue Project will have $5.4m for the New Bern Avenue BRT Project. The 5.1-mile line that will improve access and mobility along the New Bern Avenue corridor, connecting the Raleigh central business district and communities eastward to North New Hope Road.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 specifies that the funding does not count toward statutory Federal or CIG funding limitations, but is meant to assist project sponsors with their local match.

FTA administrator Nuria Fernandez says: "This funding will help numerous communities across the country continue to protect jobs and advance important transit projects that otherwise might have been canceled or delayed due to the pandemic. These federal funding allocations are so important for transit agencies struggling in the wake of Covid-19.”

In a separate move, the FTA highlighted how more than 350 transit systems are providing free transportation to vaccination sites or using their transit stations and facilities as vaccination sites. 

"Getting vaccinated is the best way to defeat this virus and resume being able to gather safely with our friends and loved ones," Buttigieg continues. 

“We are grateful for the service and creativity of transit agencies across the country that are providing access to vaccines and encourage every state, county, and city to do the same during our Month of Action."

Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee presented its INVEST Act - a $547 billion bill to fund surface transportation programmes.