Maine projects to receive $3.3 million of $787 million in new federal transit grants

Posted July 23, 2012, at 12:46 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a third wave of annual funding worth $787 million for repairs and upgrades to public transit systems nationwide, including more than $3.3 million for projects in Maine.

LaHood was joined by federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff in a conference call Monday morning with reporters from around the country to announce the latest installment in the department’s State of Good Repairs program.

In Maine, $2 million will be awarded to the Greater Portland Metro Bus service to replace five aging buses, $735,160 will be put toward vehicle replacement and a maintenance building roof replacement for the Aroostook Regional Transportation System, while $388,000 and $180,000 will be allocated for vehicle replacements for Western Maine Transportation Services and Waldo Community Action Partners, respectively.

Waldo Community Action Partners uses small buses to provide seniors, the disabled, and other transit-dependent riders in Belfast, Bangor, Augusta, Waterville and Rockland on-demand transportation services, according to an announcement Monday from U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

“I am pleased that the Federal Transit Administration has released this funding for Maine,” said Michaud, a Democrat who represents Maine’s 2nd District, in a statement Monday. “The new vehicles made possible through these investments will save on energy costs, be good for the environment, and help provide area riders a safe and reliable transportation option.”

Democratic 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree announced the Greater Portland Metro Bus service funding last week, saying at the time the federal money is “critical” to keeping the bus service stable while gas prices fluctuate and more people rely on public transportation.

LaHood and Rogoff said during Monday’s conference call the State of Good Repair program is a key part of President Barack Obama’s plan to reinvigorate the country’s bus and rail networks, which the administration believes need $80 billion in investments to ultimately be brought up-to-date after years of deferred maintenance.

“Since day one, the Obama administration has been focused on addressing the maintenance backlog of our nation’s transit systems, and this is another down-payment on that effort,” Rogoff said in prepared comments. “For millions of Americans, these investments mean that they may more reliably and safely get to work to earn a paycheck or get to day care to pick up their children on time, or simply have new choices to enjoy the communities in which they live.”

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