U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced an agreement to provide $38 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to build a bus rapid transit system in Austin, bringing additional transportation choices to one of the most congested mid-size cities in the country. The new bus system will make it easier for residents to get to jobs, schools and cultural centers in downtown Austin.
"President Obama is advocating an all-of-the-above energy strategy for the United States, which includes giving people more transportation choices. The MetroRapid bus service will let people save on gas and reduce their carbon footprint by leaving cars at home if they choose," said Secretary LaHood. "This investment moves us closer to achieving our goal of reducing oil imports by a third in a little over a decade."
The new MetroRapid bus service includes construction of 40 new bus stations and the purchase of 40 clean diesel buses that will operate along a 37.5 mile route on streets that run parallel to the region's main highways, I-35 and Loop-1. The service will make it easier for riders to access downtown Austin's central business district, the State Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin, while saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. More than 20,000 daily riders are expected to use the service when it begins in 2014.
The agreement, which covers about 80 percent of the $47 million project, clears the way for the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) to begin construction on the new bus rapid transit system. According to MetroRapid, the project is expected to create more than 100 construction-related jobs. FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, joined by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Capital Metro officials, signed the project construction grant agreement during a ceremony today in downtown Austin.
"With gas prices high and traffic congestion choking Austin's roadways, President Obama's commitment to boost transportation funding is critical to building a modern transportation network that creates jobs, spurs development and promotes the use of clean energy," said Administrator Rogoff. "This project will help people breathe easier, spend less time sitting in traffic on I-35 and Loop-1 and keep more of their hard-earned money."
Rogoff also announced an additional $3 million grant from FTA's State of Good Repair Program that Capital Metro will use toward the replacement of seven worn-out buses in its regular fleet.