Great news! Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed their Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill for FY2011 and it included $24.23 million for Capital MetroRapid!
The Senate Appropriations Committee also passed their version of the bill last week, and the same was previously requested by President Obama in his FY2011 budget. While there are a few more steps left before final budget approval, the recent action is very encouraging and moves Capital Metro that much closer to the finish.
MetroRapid bus rapid transit is a highly cost-effective premium service designed to reduce travel time by up to twenty percent. How? With a traffic signal priority system that holds lights green a little longer for buses, queue jump lanes designed to let buses bypass traffic, fewer stops, and frequent service every 10 to 15 minutes! Initial service will include two routes: North Lamar/South Congress and Burnet/South Lamar.
MetroRapid was selected for funding by the Federal Transit Administration as part of a competitive grant program. We applied in Fall 2008 and are especially proud of our rapid (har har, get it) progress. (Thanks to our staff and incredible assistance from the FTA, Capital Metro was able to navigate through the process very quickly.) In FY2010, as a result of the FTA recommendation and assistance from our local delegation, Capital Metro was awarded $13.3 million in funds and, should this second round be approved, the federal total will tally $37.6 million, which is 80 percent of our application’s estimated $47 million total—and the maximum amount of federal funding provided under the program.
Capital Metro extends special thanks to our Austin-area Senators and Representatives who have worked to help advance funding for MetroRapid. In the House, Rep. Lloyd Doggett provided a critical first step and ongoing support by advocating inclusion of the project in the House Transportation Appropriations bill. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. John Carter provided advice and information to help us navigate this year’s process.
In the Senate both of our Senators played key roles. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to fund the project and Sen. John Cornyn provided active support as well.
Funding for this project isn’t guaranteed until the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by the President, but the recent House vote is another key step in the right direction. Stay tuned for more exciting news, and thank your Senators and Congressmen the next time you see them. We couldn’t accomplish these things without them.