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US announces nearly £1bn investment in public transport schemes

US transportation secretary Ray LaHood this week announced $1.58bn (£989M) for 27 transit projects nationwide that will improve public transportation access for millions of Americans while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and curbing air pollution.

“Investing in a modern transportation network is a key part of President Obama’s strategy to win the future by out-building and out-competing the rest of the world,” said LaHood. “America’s long-term economic success requires investing now in transportation infrastructure capable of moving people and goods more safely, efficiently and quickly than ever before.”

“Our investments in expanding America’s transit networks will not only improve reliable transportation access for communities across the country, they will support construction jobs and economic development,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.  “And, a more efficient and reliable transit network means new opportunities for Americans to keep more of their paychecks in their wallets and spend less at the gas pump.”

Twenty-seven transit projects across America are on a path to receive funding under the New Starts program, through which Federal Transit Administration (FTA) provides federal support for major capital construction projects such as subways, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit. These projects include:

  • The New Britain-Hartford Busway will provide commuters traveling between New Britain and Hartford a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to the current daily commute on Interstate 84, the region’s most congested highway
  • Denver’s 13-station Eagle Commuter Rail project, which will add nearly 37km of service to Denver’s transit system connecting downtown Denver and Denver International Airport to the east with numerous communities in between
  • The Rapid C Bus Rapid Transit Line will help to relieve traffic congestion in West Seattle, Washington, improve access to downtown Seattle’s 150,000 jobs, and connect the popular Washington State Ferries serving Vashon Island and Southworth among other spots along the corridor
  • The Central Corridor light rail project will connect Minnesota’s two largest cities—Minneapolis and Saint Paul—by light rail for the first time. The FTA recently signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement making a long-term financial commitment to the £600M light rail line, which will carry 40,000 riders along this busy 18km.
  • The Austin MetroRapid is a 60km, 40-stop, bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The project, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2013, is the first phase of Capitol Metropolitan Transit Authority’s comprehensive and forward-leaning All Systems Go ten-corridor long-range transit plan.

A complete list of the 27 projects receiving New Starts funding allocations for 2011 can be found here.

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