A media event was held at Metro on Friday afternoon to celebrate two recent grants from the Federal Transit Administration: $25 million for the purchase of about 60 new compressed natural gas-powered buses and $9.6 million for a new Silver Line station at Patsaouras Plaza at Union Station.
The grant for the bus platform was the largest FTA Livability Grant Initiative in the nation. And the bus grant was fourth largest State of Good Repair grant. Both awards come on the heels of last year’s $47.7 million State of Good Repair Grant from the FTA to help pay for the new Bus Division 13 building adjacent to Metro headquarters.
All good signs that Metro is staying competitive when competing for federal dollars.
FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan and Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa came together at the event and also called upon Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, which includes billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements across the U.S.
“I tell people that the biggest deficit facing the nation is not the budget deficit, but the jobs deficit,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “We need Congress to put the bickering aside and put thousands of able-bodied people back to work.”
“We should be doing a lot more for this county as big and busy as it is,” said Deputy Administrator McMillan. “And we would do a lot more if Congress passes the American Jobs Act.”
McMillan said that the Act would provide about $400 million to California transit agencies for bus repair and about $1 billion statewide for transportation projects. “There are too many people out there hurting for us to do nothing,” she added.
The new bus division, the Silver Line station — as part of Metro’s ExpressLanes project — and the new CNG buses are expected to create more than 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly, according to Metro’s estimates.
The news release from the FTA is after the jump.
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $34.7 Million for Improvements to Transit in Los Angeles
Transit Official in LA for Announcement and to Encourage Congress to Pass President Obama’s American Jobs Act
LOS ANGELES – People living and visiting the Los Angeles area will soon have improved transit options and reduced congestion thanks to $34.7 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) 2011 Bus Livability and State of Good Repair competitive discretionary programs. FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan was at Metro headquarters in Los Angeles today to make the announcement and to encourage Congress to support the transportation investments proposed under President Obama’s American Jobs Act. She was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Metro CEO Art Leahy and other officials.
“Investing in America’s transit systems, rails, roads, ports and airports is the perfect way to generate tens of thousands of construction-related jobs and put more money into the pockets of working Americans,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “But we must do more. Congress needs to pass the transportation portion of the American Jobs Act so we can continue to invest in critically needed projects like these, and to repair and modernize our nation’s transportation systems.”
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the transportation proposals made under the President’s American Jobs Act next week.
The transit grants announced today will help Metro purchase new energy-efficient compressed natural gas buses and construct a new Patsaouras Plaza Bus Station adjacent to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, which will serve El Monte Busway passengers and other transit riders. The improved station will connect directly to Union Station, Los Angeles’ main passenger rail station, and provide more convenient connections between other bus lines, light rail, Amtrak and Metrolink commuter rail.
The project is part of the Metro ExpressLanes Demonstration Program, a larger strategic effort to reduce traffic congestion along the I-10 and I-110 freeways in Los Angeles County. The demonstration program, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation, Metro and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), is currently under construction and expected to generate 2,400 jobs, thanks in part to a $210 million federal grant awarded by the Department of Transportation four years ago.
“As a native Californian, I know first-hand just how crowded our highways and roads are and how without these federal investments our cities’ buses will continue to age and break down,” Deputy Administrator McMillan said. “This Administration is committed to working with Los Angeles to bring more good transportation projects home that will help create new jobs, while achieving the goals of reducing congestion, cleaning our air, and allowing families to save on gas.”
The grants announced today are included among more than 300 competitive discretionary grants totaling nearly $930 million announced nationwide earlier this month by Secretary LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff to rebuild and renovate America’s transit infrastructure and plan for the future. FTA is providing more than $126 million for 41 projects in California. A complete list of successful project proposals can be found at http://fta.dot.gov/grants/13094.html.
FTA reviewed 839 project applications representing $4.9 billion in funding requests from transit providers across the country for the fiscal year 2011 competitive discretionary grant programs. Passing the American Jobs Act would help many more qualified projects to be funded, and create tens of thousands more jobs.