USDOT Announces More Than $16 Million in Grants to Help Communities Improve Transportation in Areas of Persistent Poverty
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today awarded grants to help marginalized communities across the country. Approximately $16.2 million will fund 40 projects in 32 states and two territories through FTA's Areas of Persistent Poverty (AoPP) program. FTA grants the awards on a competitive basis to state and local governments, transit agencies, and nonprofit organizations to create better transit for residents who have limited or no transportation options.
"For millions of people in communities big and small, transit is a lifeline," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "Every American should have a way to affordably get to work or school, buy fresh food, access medical care, and visit their loved ones – and these transit grants will help make that a reality in 45 underserved communities across the country."
The program supports the Biden-Harris Administration's Justice40 initiative and general goals of advancing racial equity and improving public health and the environment through transportation planning that results in new or better transit service.
"Transit can be the great equalizer, but if you live in a transit desert, where options are few and far away, you don’t have access to that power," said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, who spoke at an event in Jackson, MS, to highlight a $650,000 grant to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. "FTA's Areas of Persistent Poverty Program removes barriers to opportunity by increasing access to jobs, school, and services for some of our residents who need it the most."
AoPP grants are awarded for planning, engineering, and technical studies or financial plans to improve transit in Census-defined low-income areas. The program also supports coordinated human service transportation planning to improve transit service or provide new services, including paratransit. Thanks to the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, FTA expects to be able to support more projects in the next round of grant awards.
Some of the selected projects include:
- The Mississippi DOT will receive $650,000 to help the Claiborne County Human Resource Agency and four partner organizations adapt technology to make it easier and more efficient for people to get on board in rural areas. The agencies will adapt technology to improve its online ride management platform and test the potential of using real-time data from the field to improve their dispatching system and improve the rider experience.
- Chatham Area Transit (CAT) in the Savannah, Georgia, region, will receive $400,000 to study ways to connect emerging job centers and areas that have high levels of racial inequity or persistent poverty. The resulting project will improve air quality, connect low-income communities to more than 2,000 new job opportunities, and serve three job centers that are not on existing CAT transit routes.
- Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) in Cleveland, Ohio, will receive $585,000 to partner with local public agencies and nonprofits to address barriers to transit access facing people living in areas of persistent poverty. The study will allow GCRTA to improve not only transit access, but economic mobility and quality of life for more than 200,000 people. In Phase 2, GCRTA will consider ways to improve access including reduced fare costs, schedule changes, micro transit, and zoning changes.
- The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, Alabama, will receive $495,000 to study three transit areas and develop plans to improve transportation options and land use to connect people living in areas of persistent poverty to the city's bus rapid transit system. The study will assess the potential for transit-oriented development, accessibility improvements, and enhancement of bus stops, and how to better use blighted, vacant, and underused properties.
- The White Mountain Apache tribe in Arizona will receive $112,500 for a study analyzing where to locate a new bus transfer station as part of its Fort Apache Connection (FACT) transit system. The new station will reduce the distance buses must travel each day from FACT headquarters, lowering fuel and maintenance costs and improving mobility for residents in 11 communities on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona.
FTA received applications totaling close to $63 million in funding requests. Projects were selected based on criteria described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. Information on prior-year funded projects under the program, previously known as the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) initiative, can be found here.