Massachusetts awards $37 million to regional transit operators

May 20, 2024
The funding will be awarded through three grant programs and will support fleet electrification, to enhance and expand existing transit services, expand service hours and improve rural connectivity.

Massachusetts transit operators will receive $37 million in grant funding from the Healey-Driscoll Administration to support regional public transportation. The funding from three grant programs will go to Regional Transit Authorities (RTA), Councils on Aging and other entities for vehicles, to support fleet electrification, to enhance and expand existing transit services, expand service hours, improve rural connectivity and assist with operating and capital expenses. 

Under the Community Transit Grant Program (CTGP), almost $20 million will be used to purchase vehicles for public transportation needs and more than $2 million is being awarded for projects expanding mobility for older adults, people with disabilities and low-income individuals.  In a third grant program, $15 million is being provided to increase operating and capital funding for transit providers through the Regional Transit Innovation Grant (RTIG) Program. 

“We are excited to announce these grant funds because we know the money will go a long way to supporting the needs of organizations that provide mobility options across the state,” said Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey.  “Public transportation plays a crucial role when it comes to accessibility, community connectivity and economic growth and we will work to ensure that all residents have access to the transportation services they need.” 

“This grant money supports a lifeline for so many - essential travel to doctor’s appointments, shopping centers, school, work locations and other important destinations,” said Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll. “Funding for these transit providers will truly make a difference by increasing public transportation routes, adding more hours of service and expanding the number of electric public transit vehicles on our roads.”   

RTIG Program 

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 state budget allotted $15 million in discretionary operating and capital funding for the RTIG Program, which is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).  At least 25 percent of the funding ($3.7 million) is reserved for mobility providers operating in rural areas.  Eligible RTIG project types included new and innovative service delivery models, expanded service hours or weekend service, rural connectivity, connectivity improvements across regional transit authority service areas, electrification, infrastructure and capital investments. 

MassDOT notes 60 applications were submitted for the RTIG Program and that 18 of the 60 projects are receiving funding.  In addition, 48 percent of RTIG funding will go toward projects with rural service areas, exceeding the 25 percent requirement.  

CTGP vehicles 

FY 24 CTGP vehicle grants are being awarded to 43 applicants for a total amount of $19.7 million to fund 168 vehicles.  MassDOT says 54 applicants applied for the grant.  Through the CTGP Vehicle Cycle Awards, MassDOT’s Rail and Transit Division is distributing federal 5310 and state Mobility Assistance Program (MAP) funding. Vehicles, which will be procured, include a range of minivans and cutaway vehicles, varying in size to accommodate a range of fleet needs.  All models are wheelchair accessible.   

According to federal rules, federal 5310 funds can pay for up to 80 percent of the cost of each vehicle.  Massachusetts’ Councils on Aging, nonprofits and municipalities must pay a 20 percent match. The state’s 15 RTAs are eligible for fully funded vehicles with state MAP funds providing a 20 percent match. 

“The Healey-Driscoll Administration is stepping up efforts to expand public transportation options for everyone in every corner of the state,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Monica Tibbits-Nutt.  “This grant funding will help our transit providers do more, including adding service, expanding routes and purchasing electric vehicles so more mobility options can be offered to senior citizens, people with disabilities and individuals who cannot afford to own a car.”  

“The volume of applications for funding from these programs shows the high demand for enhanced transit services. We are pleased to be partnering with transit providers across the state to fund projects in urban, suburban and rural areas to better meet the mobility needs of our communities,” said MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Meredith Slesinger. 

The full list of projects awarded for both grant projects can be found at MassDOT’s website.