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monsoon

Southern City Transit Funding (non-highway), Redux

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The FTA has awarded Full Funding Agreements for only 4 cities very meager Bush 2006 budget for transit funding. Only one Southern city receive funding for 2006 all though several applied.

Let's use this thread to discuss the various cities strategies for funding their plans for rail transit.

The winning cities are:

ANTICIPATED FFGAs

  • Arizona Phoenix - Central Phoenix/East Valley LRT Corridor $90M

  • North Carolina Charlotte - South Corridor LRT $55M

  • New York New York - Long Island Rail Road East Side Access $390M

  • Pennsylvania Pittsburgh - North Shore LRT Connector $55M

There were dozens of other cities which were seeking Fhags for their transit systems that have lost out this year.

The budget also includes payments on existing FFGAs

EXISTING FULL FUNDING GRANT AGREEMENTS (FFGAs) $Millions

  • California Los Angeles - Metro Gold Line East Side Extension 80

  • California San Diego - Mission Valley East LRT Extension 7.7

  • California San Diego - Oceanside-Escondido Rail Corridor 12.21

  • California San Francisco - BART Extension to San Francisco Airport 81.86

  • Colorado Denver - Southeast Corridor LRT 80

  • Illinois Chicago - Douglas Branch Reconstruction 45.15

  • Illinois Chicago - North Central Corridor Commuter Rail 20.61

  • Illinois Chicago - Ravenswood Line Extension 40

  • Illinois Chicago - South West Corridor Commuter Rail 7.28

  • Illinois Chicago - Union-Pacific West Line Extension 14.29

  • Maryland Baltimore - Central LRT Double-Track 12.42

  • New Jersey Northern New Jersey - Hudson-Bergen MOS-2 100

  • Ohio Cleveland - Euclid Corridor Transportation Project 24.77

  • Oregon Portland - Interstate MAX LRT Extension 18.11

  • Puerto Rico San Juan - Tren Urbano 10.20

  • Washington Seattle - Central Link Initial Segment 80

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Do you know by chance if Nashville applied?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Nashville didn't need Federal money for the commuter rail if i remember correctly. It uses existing tracks and the cost has been very cheap.

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Is there a listing of the criteria for approval? I know one of them is air quality. If it's getting better, then they lose some or all funding. I'm sure there are more and some may have more value over others.

It seems odd to me that some cities would get the full funding but others were completely denied. Why not just spread it around to all those that applied that needed it?

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Do you know by chance if Nashville applied?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

As rocket states, Nashville didn't require much funding since the 32 mile/6-station starter line costs only $40 million. That's cheap and should be a lesson to other metros that a high capacity transportation option on a dedicated right of way exists for less money than it takes to just expand an existing freeway, to say nothing about building a new one. Hell, that $40 million pricetag includes replacing about 16 miles of track! I believe RTA was awarded some money for this endeavor last year and apparently they have what they need to make this starter system happen.

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Is there a listing of the criteria for approval?  I know one of them is air quality.  If it's getting better, then they lose some or all funding.  I'm sure there are more and some may have more value over others.

It seems odd to me that some cities would get the full funding but others were completely denied.  Why not just spread it around to all those that applied that needed it?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Some cities, like Tampa, were denied because their plans weren't fully backed by their residents or the plans were poorly developed. Many of these places most likely will recieve funding if they're willing to pay most of the costs, for their local systems themselves, which in the grand scheme of things, is the right way to do it.

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As rocket states, Nashville didn't require much funding since the 32 mile/6-station starter line costs only $40 million. That's cheap and should be a lesson to other metros that a high capacity transportation option on a dedicated right of way exists for less money than it takes to just expand an existing freeway, to say nothing about building a new one. Hell, that $40 million pricetag includes replacing about 16 miles of track! I believe RTA was awarded some money for this endeavor last year and apparently they have what they need to make this starter system happen.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree, I wonder why more metros don't look at establishing commuter rail. Which railroad company owns the rails that Nashville's commuter rail system will run on?

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I agree, I wonder why more metros don't look at establishing commuter rail.  Which railroad company owns the rails that Nashville's commuter rail system will run on?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The Nashville & Eastern Railroad Authority owns the "shortline" that this starter commuter system will use. One of the reasons why this particular line will be built first is due to a cost-saving agreement between RTA and this railroad authority--given an unbeatable deal and guarantee, RTA decided to take advantage of it.

The system should be operational by early 2006, according to the data I've seen. The original plan called for service by late 2005, but delays come up of course and the big one is the projected completion of the Riverfront Station.

I think that this system is pivotal not just for Nashville, but for everyone. If it is operational and practical with only a $40 million pricetag, I suspect it will inspire other cities.

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Is there a listing of the criteria for approval?  I know one of them is air quality.  If it's getting better, then they lose some or all funding.  I'm sure there are more and some may have more value over others.

It seems odd to me that some cities would get the full funding but others were completely denied.  Why not just spread it around to all those that applied that needed it?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes and it is very specific and detailed. Much more so that can be described here, but basically systems are judged on anticipated ridership, is it a viable system, and the amount of local funding available. Applicants have to be very detailed in their proposals and include what they are doing for ridership. If there is not 50% local funding lined up, then forget it.

These new rules came into effect in part to remove the political nature of awarding federal money. The FTA makes it recommendations to congress who can then choose to fund it or not.

Money will not be spread around to all cities because it ends up getting wasted on systems and plans that will not work. For example, federal money was used to build a commuter rail system in Burlington, Vermont. It operated for about a year or so and then simply closed down from lack of use. A huge waste of money. (this was in 2003) The feds don't want a repeat of this mistake.

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Charlotte did several things to be one of the awardee's. (The total cost of CLT's LRT is ~$450B, and the feds will be paying 49% of that).

  • Probably the most important thing, and what set it apart from most applicants, was the creation of a 1/2% sales tax on purchases to be used exclusively on non-highway transit. This is generating over a $million/week and is gradually increasing as CLT's economy continues to grow. In addition the NCDOT gave CLT 25% of the cost of the line.

  • Charlotte and the surrounding communities, counties and even parts of SC have formed a regional transit authority, the MTC, which involves all of these areas in the planning process. This insures that present and future rail projects will have a regional focus which is one of the objectives of FTA.

  • There is a very comprehensive plan which creates transit corridors in which development is being zoned for high density around these lines. Already there are people living in new condos that will be on the LRT line. In a similar manner, development is being encouraged around the North Commuter Rail line which should begin construction in 2007. Just this past week, Lowes Home Improvement announced it's first urban store which will be located on the line and the project will incorporate housing.

It also helped that local organizers built a 2.5 mile electric rail based trolley system completely without any federal or state money. That system went operational in 2004 and is very popular.

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Makes sense. Burlington is just a little place, why did they even consider funding a commuter rail line?

Whoa, $450 billion? I'm guessing you meant milion. Feds pay half and 1/2% sales tax at over a million a week sounds more realistic. Still, that's a pretty nice deal.

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