For the transit industry, the events of the past couple of weeks have been deeply influential. The signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has confirmed the continuation of the period of record-high funding for transit that began during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
President Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law on November 15. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
allocates $108 billion to public transit, with goals that include modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks, and electrifying school and transit buses to reduce emissions and provide sustainable transportation options for all Americans. Safety, modernization, climate and equity are four key priorities of the bill. As part of the modernization priority, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will begin to address transit systems’ collective repair backlog of more than $105 billion with $23.1 billion of grants over the next five years to support the State of Good Repair program. As part of the climate priority, the bill includes $5.6 billion in grants for agencies to transition fleets to low- or zero-emission buses.
Here’s how agencies are planning to use the anticipated funds.
Transit agencies are hoping the infrastructure bill will help them reach their ambitious climate and capital goals. Bay Area transit agencies will use the funds to eliminate bus tailpipe emissions by 2040, as well as complete electrification of Caltrain’s rail system by 2024. The New York MTA will use some of the money it receives to make its subway stations wheelchair-accessible, while other agencies hope to replace older, unreliable vehicles in their fleet.
As agencies begin to plan and prioritize infrastructure investments, it is important that smart decisions are made that actually drive the industry, as a whole, towards improved performance – for customers, the broader community, and the environment.