Public transportation investment received a boost this year with the announcement that $1.5 billion would be awarded through Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants in Fiscal Year 2018, with 13 percent going to public transportation projects. The grant program was previously known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) under the Obama administration, established after the economic downturn in 2009. BUILD grants cover a wide array of possible uses, many of which are directly applicable to transit properties and their long-term operations and maintenance.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, demand for BUILD grants doubled in 2018, with 851 eligible applications from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. Over $10.9 billion in funding was requested, for projects ranging from park-and-ride upgrades to transit station repairs and maintenance as well as accessibility initiatives for smaller transit agencies.
In all, 15 projects received $195 million in grants. Among these are several transit agencies overseen by TRA state safety oversight clients, including Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which received $20 million to rebuild outdoor station platforms to increase safety and accessibility and improve rider experience. The project will also align station platforms with vehicle floors, making alighting and disembarking easier. In addition, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) received $15 million to make improvements to SEPTA and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. Stairs, escalators, and fare payment will all be modified and enhanced, and connections between modes will be improved. Miami-Dade County and the Connecticut Department of Transportation also won grants to make transportation enhancements.