Readers Write: New federal transit funding good news for Nassau County

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There is more good news from Washington besides the Town of North Hempstead receiving $1 million in Federal Transit Administration Section 5310 funding. (“Town getting $1 million for transportation programs” — Janelle Clausen; September 14.)  

These dollars are part of a New York State Department of Transportation block grant from the Federal Transit Administration. 

They will fund the Town of North Hempstead’s Project Independence transportation program to assist senior residents and those with disabilities. 

The Town of North Hempstead is one of many sub-recipients in each of the 62 New York State counties under this grant. 

Albany does most of the paperwork in applying for this annual grant on behalf of several hundred sub-recipients.    

The Sept. 6 Metropolitan Transportation Authority Public Hearing for their proposed federal fiscal year 2018 capital program of projects confirms there continues to be good news from Washington concerning real hard cash financial support for public transportation. 

This includes the Long Island Rail Road, New York City Transit Subway and Bus, MTA Bus (the old eight NYC Department of Transportation franchised private bus operators) and Metro North Commuter Rail.  

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority receives over $1.3 billion annually year from the Federal Transit Administration.  

Most federal transportation grants require a 20 percent hard-cash local share. 

FTA  accepted toll credits instead of hard cash for the local share.

This saved the MTA over $1 billion in the previous 2010-2014 five-year capital program. The same continues under the current 2015-2019 five-year capital program.

Washington has made available over $1.3 billion in 2018 Federal Transit Administration formula funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which helps pays for a significant portion of its capital program.  

This includes $28 million in buses and bus facilities; $647 million in Section 5337 State of Good Repair and $675 million in Section 5307 Urbanized Area federal funding.

There are other opportunities for up to several hundred million more in discretionary competitive federal grants.  

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority can also take advantage of Federal Transit Administration pre-award authority prior to grant approval.  

Use of pre-award authority affords the MTA an opportunity to start projects months earlier and incur costs for reimbursement at a later date after grant approval and obligation of funding.  

The MTA currently manages an active portfolio of federally funded capital improvement projects and programs in open grants worth over $12 billion in direct FTA financial assistance.    

Nassau County on behalf of Nassau Inter County Express Bus should receive over $20 million and City of Long Beach over $1.5 million in 2018 Federal Transit Administration funding as well.

Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)

  

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