The public transit industry is constantly buzzing with updates! Especially with all of the new technology, policy announcements, and flooding the news waves. To help you keep up with all the public transit news, we’ve gathered some of the top stories this month that you should keep on your radar.
FTA Grant to Help Bus System and Facility Rehabilitation
Now that’s a lot of cash! The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced $264 million in project selections to improve the safety and reliability of America’s bus systems and enhance mobility for transit riders across our country.
The funds are provided through FTA’s Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment program, and a total of 139 projects in 52 states and territories will receive funding. The grants will fund projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment, as well as projects to purchase, rehabilitate, and construct bus-related facilities, such as buildings for bus storage and maintenance.
DCTA is excited to announce that we are one of the recipients of the program funds and will use it to build a Bus Operations and Maintenance Satellite “Lite” Facility by our Rail Operations and Maintenance facility in Lewisville. This will enhance our bus operations efficiency by allowing us to have proper bus maintenance items in Lewisville, in addition to our Denton location, to better serve our rider in Lewisville and Highland Village.
Lyft and Uber Can Save (Not Hurt) Public Transit
This is a tough pill to swallow. Transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. last year, including the seven cities that serve the majority of riders, with losses largely stemming from buses but punctuated by reliability issues on systems according to an annual overview of public transit usage, as reported by The Washington Post last month.
The analysis by the TransitCenter advocacy group, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Transit Database, stated rising vehicle ownership and car-based commuting in cities nationwide. Researchers concluded factors such as lower fuel costs, increased teleworking, higher car ownership and the rise of alternatives such as Uber and Lyft are pulling people off trains and buses at record levels.
How can public transit compete? Some experts think that public transit can survive the perfect storm of telecommuting, ridesharing, lower gas prices, bike sharing, etc. if they reimagine public transit as mobility. In a recent article in Metro Magazine, it was mentioned that the silos between public transit, taxis, on-demand app-based services, and bike sharing should be removed and integrated to:
- Provide first/last mile access to rail and major bus routes
- Be subsidized for low income riders and those making connections to transit hubs
- Have a single integrated app for information and payments
- Serve dense traffic corridors and cities
- Generate new jobs to manage and staff these new mobility services
DCTA has already taken this advice to heart and has integrated taxi service (Collin County Transit) and ridesharing discount programs (Highland Village Lyft Program) to better serve Denton County and the rising demand for more customized and efficient transit options.
President signs appropriations bill that includes $13.5B for FTA programs
Last month, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that provides funding for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs to $13.5 billion, well more than the $12.3 billion authorized, and provides significant increases in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) commuter and intercity passenger rail programs.
Of the $13.5 billion for the FTA, $2.6 billion will go to the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program – FTA’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments, including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit. The bill also increases funding for buses and bus facilities over the FY 2017 level from $720 million to $1.1 billion, while funding for the rail State of Good Repair program – includes funding for repairs and upgrading of rail and bus rapid transit systems that are at least seven years old – was increased from $2.6 billion to $3 billion.
The bill also increases funding for other public transit formula programs as authorized by the FAST Act, including the appropriation of $1.5 billion for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program – provides the Department of Transportation (DOT) to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects to achieve national objectives – and $250 million for Positive Train Control implementation under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant program. It also increases Amtrak funding from $1.5 billion in FY 2017 to $1.9 billion this year, and provides significant increases for other passenger rail programs.
Have a question about any of these news stories or interested in another transit topic? Comment below to share your thoughts with us!