U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx June 4 announced the availability of approximately $100 million in competitive grant funds through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new Ladders of Opportunity Initiative.
The funds may be used to modernize and expand transit bus service specifically for the purpose of connecting disadvantaged and low-income individuals, veterans, seniors, youths, and others with local workforce training, employment centers, health care, and other vital services.
“Throughout our history, Americans have always been able to leave their children a brighter future, thanks in part to the opportunities transportation has provided,” said Secretary Foxx. “Innovative initiatives like this one can offer people the ladders to success they need to join the middle class, provide for their families, and achieve a better quality of life.”
Program funds may be used to purchase, replace, or rehabilitate transit buses and vans as well as to modernize or construct bus facilities (such as maintenance depots and intermodal facilities) in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Competitive proposals must also directly address ladders of opportunity for riders, including:
- Enhancing access to work for individuals lacking ready access to transportation, especially in low-income communities;
- Supporting economic opportunities by offering transit access to employment centers, educational and training opportunities, and other basic needs;
- Supporting partnerships and coordinated planning among state and local governments and social, human service, and transportation providers to improve coordinated planning and delivery of workforce development, training, education, and basic services to veterans, seniors, youths, and other disadvantaged populations.
“Over half of the roughly 10 billion transit trips taken each year in the United States are by bus—and nearly half the buses people depend on are in marginal or poor condition,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan. “This new initiative will help ensure that millions of riders can count on safe, efficient, reliable bus service that connects them with opportunities and services so essential to daily life.”
Funding for FTA’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative is drawn from leftover/remaining discretionary grant funds originally available prior to the enactment of MAP-21, as part of FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities Program. FTA will cover up to 80 percent of the total project cost; a 20 percent local match is required.