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Texas Agencies Receive State Grants

Public transit agencies in San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, Dallas, and Houston recently received funding as part of $267 million in grants from the Texas Transportation Commission, part of Texas DOT, through the Unified Transportation Program (UTP).

UTP is Texas DOT’s 10-year plan to guide transportation project development. The program authorizes projects for construction, development, and planning activities and includes projects involving public transportation and highways, among other modes.

Sun Metro in El Paso will use its $97 million in state funds to build a 4.8-mile looping, single-track streetcar system. In recognition of the city’s history, the service will run with refurbished Presidents’ Conference Committee streetcars that originally operated in the city in the mid-20th century.

“This is great news for us because this project will give El Pasoans another option for transportation in the downtown area,” said Sun Metro Director Jay Banasiak. “But even more exciting is the economic development that it will spur because it is a permanent fixture that will entice businesses to not only improve their business, but also develop empty lots or buildings along the streetcar corridor.”

Dallas Area Rapid Transit received $60 million for improvements to its Blue and Red light rail lines, such as platform extensions.

“This investment supports a variety of customers from multiple DART neighborhoods,” said DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas. “It adds capacity to our busiest corridor and helps us prepare for continued regional growth and the introduction of high-speed rail within the next several years.”

In Austin, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) will receive $50 million: $28 million to purchase four new railcars for MetroRail and $22 million toward construction of a permanent and larger rail station in downtown Austin.

Capital Metro President and Chief Executive Officer Linda S. Watson said, “We all know traffic problems are growing, and this funding will allow Capital Metro to significantly improve both the frequency and capacity of MetroRail, which will really help people with their commutes.”

VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio will receive $35 million in UTP funds for bus passenger amenities, including public transit centers, bus shelters, park-and-rides, and expansion of its compressed natural gas (CNG) efforts, such as a fueling facility and procurement of additional buses.

“We appreciate that the department sees that we need all the tools in the transportation toolbox to address mobility in our rapidly growing community and that we are making an unprecedented investment in public transportation,” said President/Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey C. Arndt. “VIA has an integrated transportation plan in place that will touch all sectors of the city, and this funding from Texas DOT allows us to move forward with that plan.”

In Houston, the Uptown Management District received $25 million for the construction of a dedicated bus lane as part of a future BRT project.

“The demand for public transportation is on the rise: case in point, the record trips taken on systems across the nation last year, 10.7 billion,” said Tom Lambert, president & chief executive officer, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). “Houston is growing and so is METRO’s ridership. Congestion is an ongoing challenge and so the end goal for METRO, and our partners, is to keep the city moving. We support projects that do just that. The Uptown Management District’s plan is a prime example—it aims to ease the gridlock in a very congested part of town with the use of dedicated bus lanes. It gives the public another mobility option.”


This historic streetcar will return to service in El Paso thanks to funding from Texas DOT. 

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