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APTA Awards Six Coalition Grants
BY NICOLE DUPUIS, APTA Program Manager-Policy and Planning

APTA has announced six recipients of its Local Transit Coalition Grants for the Fall 2011 funding cycle. During the past eight years, the grant program has helped support grassroots coalitions and their advocacy efforts to achieve public transportation goals on the state and local levels.

Activities funded by the grants include both public education programs and advocacy efforts and have proven to be extremely helpful in promoting transit in communities around the country. Such activities could include support for local or regional funding initiatives intended to help support public transportation in economically challenging times, activities supportive of national efforts to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs, and efforts to educate decision-makers about policies favorable to public transportation and to support public transportation services in the community.

Each grant recipient received $5,000 through the program. They include:

* Arizona Transit Association (AzTA), Gilbert, AZ, which will use the grant award to support a first-ever statewide poll of voter preferences for public transit in Arizona. The AzTA Board of Directors believes that developing a baseline of voter preference information on transit is key to creating a successful strategy to secure a stable, sustainable state funding resource. The effort will poll as many as 400 statewide likely voters, plus the additional 200 oversample in Yuma and Flagstaff.

* Community Transportation Association of Idaho (CTAI), Boise, ID, which is working with Idaho Smart Growth and community leaders to place the question of local option tax authority on the November 2012 ballot. CTAI will join with Idaho Smart Growth’s Transportation Choices Coalition to energize a grassroots coalition through the “IM4CTAI” initiative, inviting Idaho citizens and businesses to support public transportation options and funding needed in their communities.

* Friends of Transit for Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo, MI, which will support grassroots advocacy efforts to secure local funding for public transportation services in Kalamazoo County and to increase public transportation funding in the state and federal budgets. The organization will work toward passage of two local public transit millages in 2012 at the local level while helping local citizens advocate for increased state and federal transit funding levels. It will also work with Trans4m, a new statewide coalition with broad business support, to increase and stabilize transportation funding in Michigan.

* Transit Alliance, Denver, CO, which will continue its educational efforts on the benefits of public transit in the Denver metropolitan region. The group is working with other regional stakeholders to identify ways to solidify long-term leadership and advocacy for the region’s livability. In addition to its ongoing Citizens’ Academy program supporting motivation of community stakeholders, the Transit Alliance has begun working with alumni of that program to make plans for the future.

* Transit Now Nashville (TNN), Madison, TN, which is partnering with the Metro Nashville Public Health Department to develop a pilot educational program focused on incorporating public transportation as a component of a healthy lifestyle. For example, Metropolitan-Davidson County provides its employees an “Easy Ride” benefit that enables them to use the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority at no cost. TNN will engage with the health department to encourage and motivate participation in this benefit.

* Washtenaw Partners for Transit (P4T), Ypsilanti, MI, which advocates for reliable funding to implement the 30-year Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Transit Master Plan. P4T intends to engage, educate, and ultimately campaign in support of a county?wide transit funding ballot proposal to implement this plan, which will increase countywide access to public transit service and provide essential, currently nonexistent services.

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