By: Jon Cawley; DailyPress.com
The HRT award was part of a total of $787 million given to 255 programs in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico “that will put Americans to work modernizing and replacing aging transit facilities and vehicles to meet the growing demand from millions of riders across the country,” a USDOT statement said.
The statement said vehicles to be replaced “have met or exceeded their useful lives. Replacement will ensure dependable service.”
HRT will spend $2 million to purchase new vehicles for its paratransit and Traffix programs. Paratransit services provide transportation to qualified disabled people who live within three-quarters of a mile from a regular bus stop. Traffix provides van and other ride-sharing options to people who are not served by existing bus and rail services.
An additional $1 million will be spent on a transit asset management system that will help the agency better manage its maintenance and depreciation schedules for buildings, systems, vehicles and other agency assets, according to a HRT statement.
“This award comes at a critical time for Hampton Roads Transit and it could not be more welcome,” said William E. Harrell, HRT’s president and CEO, in the statement. “We will put this money to good use for the transit community.”
The grant money was allocated from the Federal Transit Administration’s fiscal year 2012 State of Good Repair and Bus Livability funds. The FTA received more than 800 project applications that totaled $4 billion. In fiscal year 2010 and 2011, the administration awarded more than $1.8 billion in grants for hundreds projects that primarily involved buses and bus facilities, the statement said.
“These are projects that will make a real difference in people’s lives,” according to Fast Lane, the official blog of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “We’re replacing old buses with new technology that will reduce fuel and maintenance costs. And we’re improving access to transportation by renovating outdated facilities. Each of these grants makes transit a safer, more efficient, and more reliable travel option.”
HRT is the only Virginia transit agency to win an award in this year’s competitive grant program. Last year, HRT was awarded $650,000 to install new bus shelters.