The Big Island and Kauai are poised to replace more than a dozen of their aging public buses with brand-new vehicles, including buses used on their long-distance commutes.
This week, the Federal Transit Administration officially announced the two neighbor islands would receive a combined $6.6 million in federal funding to replace aging buses used on neighbor island commuter routes, such as East Hawaii to West Hawaii, which the agency put at about 200 miles round trip.
The funds are part of a $423 million program to help improve bus safety and reliability across the country. They’re administered under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST Act, according to an FTA release.
The Hawaii dollars will purchase ten 40-foot, ADA-accessible buses on Hawaii Island and three 30-foot buses on Kauai, according to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who touted the funding in a press release last week. Schatz’s office also tweeted about the funding Monday:
$6.5M in federal funding for new buses is headed to Kauai & Hawaii Island 🚌
This big investment means that residents who depend on buses to get to school or work every day will continue to have an affordable way to get around #HINewshttps://t.co/1oqdFfEdX0
The FTA grants also arrive at a time when the share of federal transportation grant dollars devoted to roads and highways is growing while the share of such dollars going to mass transit is shrinking, as San Francisco Chronicle Transportation reporter Rachel Swan notes:
The Trump Administration announced $900 million in transportation grants today. Here's a snapshot from Transportation Weekly Express, comparing Obama administration multi-modal grants to Trump administration. pic.twitter.com/HeQkxl7mYB
The Hawaii Department of Transportation will receive the two islands’ $6.6 million, according to both Schatz and the FTA. It’s not clear when those new buses will hit the roads.
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