CalSTA backs $224 million in transit and intercity rail grants

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced on June 30, 2015 this year’s recipients of $224 million in competitive grants that support high-quality public transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing worldwide climate change. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is providing funding for these climate investments, using proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions.

“When public transportation is efficient, affordable and enjoyable, more Californians use it and that improves quality-of-life for everyone,” said CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly. “These grants help support nearly $720 million in transportation investments in clean, affordable and low-stress commuting and traveling options by improving the quality of reliability of public transportation choices. At a time of ever-increasing extreme weather—and an uncertain future—these investments help California take control of the emissions that cause climate change by offering more sustainable travel options.”

The grant funding is part of the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, implemented by the California State Transportation Agency in coordination with the California Department of Transportation and California Air Resources Board. The grants help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by expanding public transportation ridership and capacity, CalSTA says.

This year’s 14 projects being funded by the grants will help reduce an estimated 860,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent to taking 180,000 cars off the road, CalSTA says. The transit entities benefitting from these grants currently support approximately 360 million transit trips per year; 93% of the projects benefit disadvantaged communities.

The list of grant recipients is as follows:

• $24.4 million for Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s Regional Transit Interconnectivity & Environment Sustainability Project

• $4.6 million for Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority’s Travel Time Reduction Project

• $38.5 million for Los Angeles MTA’s (Metro) Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station & Blue Line Light Rail Operational Improvements

• $1.7 million for LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency’s Pacific Surfliner Transit Transfer Program

• $10 million for Monterey-Salinas Transit’s Monterey Bay Operations & Maintenance Facility/Salinas Transit Service Project • $2.3 million for Orange County Transportation Authority’s Bravo! Route 560 Rapid Buses

• $6.4 million for Sacramento Regional Transit’s Refurbishment of 7 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) Project

• $4 million for San Diego Association of Governments’ South Bay Bus Rapid Transit Project

• $32 million for San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s Trolley Capacity Improvements Project

• $41.2 million for San Francisco MTA’s (MUNI) Expanding the SFMTA Light Rail Vehicle Fleet Project

• $200,000 for San Joaquin RTD’s MLK Corridor and Crosstown Miner Corridor Project

• $41.2 million for SCRRA’s (Metrolink) Purchase of 9 Fuel-Efficient Tier IV Locomotives Project

• $11 million for Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District’s (SMART) Rail Car Capacity Project

The $11 million grant secured by SMART will enable the rail authority to purchase three more rail cars for its commuter rail system scheduled to begin operating in December 2016. The additional cars, which will add to SMART’s existing fleet of 14, will boost seat capacity by 35% and help extend service from the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport to Windsor, officials said.

“Transit agencies around the state are eager to put these dollars to work, improving service in so many communities while enhancing the environment for all of us,” said California Transit Association Executive Director Joshua Shaw. “All our member transit systems look forward to building on the successful launch of this exciting new program by the State Transportation Agency, the Air Resources Board and the Governor’s Administration.”

These 14 projects, which include funds for 16 new and seven refurbished LRVs, three rail cars and nine locomotives, are part of an ongoing—and statewide—commitment to sustainable and affordable public transportation in California through revenues accruing from the state’s cap-and-trade auction proceeds, CalSTA says.

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