The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced that 13 organizations in nine states will receive a share of US$29m in grant funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Safety, Resiliency, and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Demonstration finance opportunity. The grants will support cutting-edge developments in mass transit, using state-of-the-art technology to help transit agencies improve track worker and passenger safety, better withstand natural disasters, and respond more effectively to emergencies. Demand for research and demonstration funding far exceeded the available budget, with the FTA receiving 72 proposals requesting approximately US$160m. The types of projects selected include: prototype equipment, such as front-end bumpers for light rail vehicles that operate in mixed traffic to minimize the impact of collisions; and planning tools to help transit agencies protect equipment and infrastructure and deploy services during emergencies and natural disasters.
Specific projects include: the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will receive approximately US$1.7m to install and test a radar-based system of detecting intrusions, alerting rail operators and transit officials when people, vehicles or objects are on the track, helping to avoid collisions; the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority will receive approximately US$1.8m to equip additional vehicles in its Bus Rapid Transit and express bus fleets with GPS-based technology to improve safety and bus service within narrow shoulder lanes along highly congested corridors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with the system providing lane keeping information, lane departure warnings, and collision avoidance advisories to bus operators in various weather and road conditions; and the New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) will receive US$843,750 to develop an advanced weather forecast and observation system that can provide real-time information on the potential risk and magnitude of flooding before and during significant storm surge events, which will help inform decision making in order to devote resources to where they are most needed and preserve critical infrastructure.
“Safety is our highest priority at the DOT, and we are committed to ensuring that public transportation remains one of the safest ways to travel in the USA,” said US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “These grants will help transit agencies utilize the latest, most innovative technologies available to reduce collisions, protect track workers, improve operations during emergencies and natural disasters, and maintain equipment and infrastructure.” The FTA’s acting administrator, Therese McMillan, added, “We are proud to support cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to significantly improve transit safety and operations in the years ahead. It is critical that we continue to invest in 21st century systems that will keep transit riders and workers safe, and offer places like New Jersey and New Orleans the tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and natural disasters.”