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USDOT announces further funding to improve access to transit systems

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) is stepping up its long-term ambition of taking cars off the road by increasing access to reliable public transport. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced that US$20.5m in competitive grant funds is now available to support planning efforts that improve access to transit in communities across the country.

The new grant funds are provided through FTA’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning Pilot Program, which provides grants for comprehensive planning in communities that are developing or implementing major new public transportation projects. Last year, the FTA awarded US$19.5m to 21 projects in 17 metropolitan areas around the country. The grants supported comprehensive planning efforts, such as: conducting an economic analysis for communities along a planned light rail extension in Durham, North Carolina; developing updated zoning codes, an infrastructure assessment and affordable housing plans for areas along a planned streetcar route in Sacramento, California; and developing land-use plans along a corridor where a bus rapid transit system is planned in Lansing, Michigan.

FTA’s TOD Pilot Program was established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and amended by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The program helps localities plan improved access to transit, jobs, education and services, and helps revitalize communities by attracting new opportunities, jobs and housing. The program also encourages inclusive communities and seeks planning solutions to reduce residential and commercial displacement that can result from ‘gentrification’, and seeks to connect people to opportunities through multimodal access to transit stations, and to enhance connectivity of disadvantaged populations to essential services.

To be eligible for the Pilot Program, the planning work must be associated with a transit project for which the local community intends to seek funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program, or that recently received funding through the CIG Program. The CIG Program is FTA’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments, including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit and core capacity projects.

FTA’s TOD Pilot Program helps advance US President Barack Obama’s vision for a 21st century, clean transportation system. In this year’s budget, the President laid out this plan, which calls for increasing federal investments in surface transportation by 50%, while reforming the investments the government is already making to help reduce carbon pollution, cut oil consumption, and create new jobs.

“Public transit plays a critical role in connecting Americans to jobs, education and opportunity,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When we plan housing, jobs and services centered around transit lines, we build a strong foundation for the economic development that our growing nation needs, and reduce pollution, congestion and carbon emissions at the same time.”

The FTA’s senior advisor, Carolyn Flowers, commented, “This funding opportunity will help communities plan development that creates jobs, encourages transit use, and gives residents convenient access to work, school, medical care, housing and other vital services. Transit-oriented development helps ensure that the benefits of new transit lines extend throughout a community.”

April 19, 2016

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