CHICAGO– In an effort to improve public transportation services for low-income members of the workforce and persons with disabilities, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a total of $3 million in grants to 18 downstate agencies and local governments. The funding will pay for new vans and buses and will make it possible for transit agencies to establish new routes and expand the hours of service on existing routes.
“These grants are going to make it easier for people who are working hard to improve their lives to get to and from their jobs and to support their families. They will also provide more transportation options for individuals with disabilities that go above and beyond what is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The grants, from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation, provide federal funding from two programs:
- The Job Access and Reverse Commute program provides funding for local projects that support transportation services designed to transport low-income individuals to and from jobs and activities related to their employment and to support reverse commute projects.
- The New Freedom Program is a new federally funded program designed to reduce barriers to transportation services and expand the transportation mobility options available to people with disabilities beyond the requirements the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The funding will allow agencies and local governments to purchase new buses and new paratransit vehicles that are specially equipped to transport elderly persons and persons with disabilities, to acquire equipment that will improve scheduling and dispatching of vehicles, for handicapped accessible bus shelters and to pay for expanded hours of operation.
“At a time when mass transit ridership is on the increase across the state, these two programs give these agencies and local governments the opportunity to upgrade the service they provide for two groups that rely heavily on public transportation: persons with disabilities and low income members of the workforce,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees.
The awards were determined by a 10-member State Oversight Committee that was created to provide guidance on the planning process and evaluate proposed projects. The committee includes representatives from various state agencies and stakeholders in the transportation field.