March 30, 2009
Transit Agencies Mobilizing to Implement ARRA-Funded Projects
As APTA members receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, Passenger Transport will highlight some of these projects through a series of reports. This story is the first of many that will present such information as job creation and enhanced public services in communities across the country.
What follows are representative examples of public transit making plans for ARRA funding:
In Honolulu, J. Roger Morton, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services Inc., listed a number of ready-to-go projects for the region’s $40.9 million in ARRA funds that include the purchase of 20 additional hybrid-electric articulated buses; further development of a new intermodal bus transfer facility adjacent to Kamehameha Highway and Middle Street;
development of a new transit center at Wahiawa, Hawaii; and improvements to the existing Pearl City Bus Maintenance Facility. In addition, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann expressed pleasure that that Hawaii will receive $20 million for Oahu’s rail transit project. “It is very clear that our rail transit project will be a major economic stimulus for Hawaii, he said, “provide thousands of well-paying jobs, and create an environmentally friendly alternative to traffic congestion.”
The Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, CA, announced its plans to purchase 10 new hybrid buses from ElDorado National, based in Riverside, CA, with part of the $12.8 million the agency is receiving through ARRA. The 30-foot gasoline-electric hybrids will operate on neighborhood routes. “It’s very rewarding to be a catalyst for getting dollars circulating back into both the local and national economy, and to be able to develop the infrastructure for better community service all at the same time,” said Stephanie Negriff, director of transit services for the Big Blue Bus. “If you add up all the transit agencies across the country who are getting similar stimulus funds, that’s a lot of new business that companies can expect to receive very soon, which means jobs saved and maybe even new ones created,” she added.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus is centering its plans for $16.2 million in ARRA funds on overhauling its McKinley Avenue fixed route bus facility. “We’ve identified a number of projects that were going to be part of the renovation of this facility; with the stimulus funding, we can get a jump on that,” said spokesperson Marty Stutz. COTA plans to begin by replacing the 27 bus lifts in the facility. Other projects on the ARRA list include construction of a new paratransit facility; the purchase of non-revenue vehicles; and upgrading technological software.
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City is making plans for $48.4 million from ARRA, according to spokesperson Carrie Bohnsack-Ware. “We see adding 500-550 jobs,” she said. Proposed UTA projects include $6 million for 10 to 12 additional buses; $15 million for preventive bus and rail maintenance; and the balance to transform a former distribution facility for a shopping chain into a new light rail facility.
The Paducah Area Transit System in Paducah, KY, which operates a fleet of 11 fixed route buses, plans to purchase four new paratransit vehicles with its ARRA funding, along with a new generator for its facility, new on-board cameras, and additional vehicle data terminals.
Votran in South Daytona, FL, is making plans for $8.4 million in ARRA funds. General Manager Lois Bollenback said the proposed expenditures meet “goals pursuing green initiatives, passenger amenities, and fleet replacement,” including the purchase of new hybrid diesel-electric buses to replace older diesel vehicles; an assessment of the agency’s facilities and operating practices to determine ways to reduce consumption, save energy, and lower expenses; and an upgrade of the paratransit fleet through the replacement of five diesel-powered vans with hybrid-electric vehicles.
The Spokane Transit Authority Board of Directors in Spokane, WA, approved a proposed slate of projects to be funded with $10.6 million from ARRA. The largest expenditure, $9.6 million, would go toward the purchase of 23 new buses, 10 with diesel-electric hybrid engines, to replace vehicles at least 16 years old. The balance would fund a security surveillance system, transit enhancements, and preventive maintenance. “This proposal enhances our ability to continue serving our growing ridership by allowing us to redirect local funds, originally designated for capital projects, toward continued operations,” said STA Chief Executive Officer Susan Meyer.