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U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces $100 Million in Grants to Connect More Americans with Jobs, Ladders of Opportunity

Detroit to Receive Over $25 Million to Improve Access to Transit for Residents in Greatest Need

Contact: Amy Bernstein

DETROIT – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today $100 million in competitive grants to 24 recipients in 19 states to significantly improve bus service and bus facilities in urban and rural communities where residents depend heavily on public transportation. The grants are provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Ladders of Opportunity Initiative, which supports the modernization and expansion of transit bus service across the nation, with the purpose of connecting disadvantaged and low-income populations—including veterans, seniors, and youths—with centers of education, employment, job training, health care, and other vital services. A list of all funded projects is available at

“Transportation is about more than getting from one point to another--it’s about getting from where you are to a better life,” said Secretary Foxx. “The Ladders of Opportunity grants will help communities to offer better access to jobs and schools and allow citizens to gain the life skills they need to achieve their goals.”

Secretary Foxx made today’s announcement at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. He was joined by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan and state and local officials. Secretary Foxx was one of several Cabinet secretaries who met in Detroit in September 2013 to discuss what they could do to support Detroit revitalization efforts. Since the Secretary’s visit, the U.S. Department of Transportation has provided approximately $24 million to repair and rehabilitate buses and install security cameras to protect passengers and drivers, more than $37 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants to the M1 RAIL/Woodward Avenue Streetcar project and $6.4 million to assist the newly created Regional Transit Authority implement a regional bus rapid transit system.

“More Americans travel by bus than any other form of transit—and nearly half of the buses that people depend on in the United States are in marginal or poor condition,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan. “These grants will give a much-needed boost to communities around the country whose residents need and deserve safe, reliable bus service to access jobs and other important opportunities to provide for their families and achieve a better quality of life.”

FTA’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative proved to be one of the most over-subscribed discretionary grant programs in the agency’s history. FTA received 446 project proposals from 282 applicants requesting a total of approximately $1.4 billion—14 times the available funding. This highly competitive response reflects tremendous demand for modern buses and bus facilities in communities across the United States. Priority was given to projects that provide ready access to work for individuals lacking reliable transportation, especially in low-income and under-served neighborhoods; projects connecting to universities, hospitals or other places that can lead to improved quality of life; and projects based on effective partnerships with local governments, businesses, and non-profits.

The President’s GROW AMERICA Act reauthorization proposal would increase funding for transit buses and bus facilities by over 350 percent between FY2014 and FY2015, to help address additional unmet transportation needs across the country, including provisions for discretionary grants.

Among the projects selected nationwide:

  • Detroit will receive $25.9 million to purchase up to 50 new hybrid and clean diesel buses that will ease overcrowding, reduce wait times, and provide more accessible and reliable service for a highly transit-dependent population where 60 percent of residents do not have access to a car, and 35 percent live below the poverty line. The new buses will provide riders with essential links to jobs, education, training and other opportunities throughout Detroit, including vital connections to the Central Business District. The clean-fuel buses will replace aging vehicles that have been plagued by maintenance issues, resulting in better on-time service, as well as reduced carbon emissions.
  • San Francisco will receive approximately $9 million to help the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to expand its Muni bus service by adding up to 12 motor coaches to targeted lines across San Francisco. Improved bus service will help ease overcrowding and facilitate transit access in some of the city’s highest need areas.
  • Denver will receive $5 million to link Denver’s bus system with nearby Aurora, Colorado, connecting residents of an economically diverse corridor with a variety of education and employment opportunities. This project incorporates Denver’s Workforce Initiative Now! program to deliver training, education, and job services.
  • Oklahoma will receive almost $4.1 million to replace aging vehicles in 10 transit systems across rural parts of the state, expanding economic opportunities in a region where 78 percent of rural workers face commute times of an hour or more.
  • Two grants totaling $260,570 will establish new transit systems on Native American reservations. These projects will afford much-needed transportation options to tribal residents who often lack access to employment, health care, and other essentials. Recipients are the Sac and Fox Nation, which borders Kansas and Nebraska, and the Muckleshoot Reservation in Washington State, near Seattle, Wash.
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016
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