CHICAGO - In an effort to improve public transportation services in downstate Illinois, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a total of $5.88 million in federal grants to 16 downstate transit agencies and local governments. The funding will go towards the purchase of new buses and the construction of new facilities to make local public transportation more safe and reliable.
“Many of these agencies are the sole providers of public transportation in their communities. These grants will help our downstate transit agencies continue to provide safe and reliable service to their customers and the riding public in Illinois,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The grants, from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation or the Federal Transit Administration, will provide federal funding from the Discretionary Bus and Bus Facility Program. This program is made possible by federal funding that was requested and received by the State of Illinois earlier this year.
“Public transportation ridership is on the rise across the state,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “This funding will give downstate transit agencies and local governments the opportunity to upgrade the service they provide to the general public.”
IDOT's Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation provides technical assistance and administers state and federal operating and capital funds to public transportation systems throughout the state. Together, these agencies serve an average of 600 million passengers a year. Operating funds from IDOT assist public transportation systems in providing necessary day-to-day public transportation service within their community.
Capital funds are used to purchase new buses and rail transit cars, the rehabilitation and new construction of transit maintenance and garage facilities and stations, and the upgrading of rail track. The Division of Public and Intermodal Transportation also assists non-profit agencies throughout the state in the purchase of special vehicles and equipment to serve the needs of the elderly and individuals with disabilities.
“Annually, we see an ever demanding need to replace older vehicles, provide vehicles for new or expanded service and as more and more Illinois residents are utilizing public transportation, the need for transit funding will continue to increase in the upcoming years,” said Linda Podeschi, Executive Director, Illinois Public Transportation Association. “This awards announcement could not come at a more opportune time for these 16 downstate systems.”