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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson September 4, 2009

Stimulus money boosts public transportation

The Obama administration has been quick to shovel more money to public transportation.
The economic stimulus package signed into law in February 2009 has two major pots of money aimed at mass transit systems. It allocated $8.4 billion to the Federal Transit Administration, the division of the Transportation Department that supports "locally planned, constructed, and operated public transportation systems throughout the United States," including "buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, streetcars, monorail, passenger ferry boats, inclined railways (and) people movers." This stimulus money is aimed at supporting capital improvements for those systems. According to the administration, 322 grants to transit agencies were made by July 30, totaling $3.9 billion in stimulus money.
The second major source of money open to transit systems is from Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (or TIGER) grants. These grants are designed to boost "multimodal" projects — those that involve more than one type of transportation — with a preference for those located in economically distressed areas. They can range from $20 million to $300 million. On July 30, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that he was accelerating the process of awarding the grants, allowing the department to announce the awardees in January 2010, one month ahead of the statutory deadline.

This was a pretty broad promise and it's been fulfilled largely because of the money from the stimulus. We rate it a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

Federal Transit Administration, overview of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act web page , accessed Sep. 3, 2009
Federal Transit Administration, Programs Receiving ARRA Funds web page , accessed Sep. 3, 2009
Federal Transit Administration, "About Us" web page , accessed Sep. 3, 2009
Transportation Department, "TIGER Discretionary Grants Will Target Major-Impact Transportation Projects, Job Creation" news release , May 15, 2009
Transportation Department, "U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood to Announce TIGER Discretionary Grant Awards Early in Effort to Accelerate Recovery Spending" news release , July 30, 2009
E-mail interviews with Transportation Department spokeswoman Olivia Alair, September 2009

E-mail interview with Brookings Institution transportation expert Robert Puentes, Sept. 4, 2009

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