FTA Advances Three Small Start BRT Projects

The Federal Transit Administration announced this week that it had allocated $184 million in new funding for three new “small start” bus rapid transit projects under the FTA’s Capital Investment Program and topped off a fourth ongoing project with an additional $3.2 million.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “Millions of Americans rely on public transit to get to work, services, and family – and communities need support to create more public transit options. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to modernizing and expanding our public transit systems, and that includes support for these great projects.”

The ongoing project was the Weber State University BRT project in Ogden, Utah, which had already received allocations of $75.1 million in fiscal 2019 and 2020 appropriations from the Trump Administration.

The three new projects receiving CIG funding allocations this week are:

  • San Bernardino, California: West Valley Connector BRT Project. This project receives $86.8 million in fiscal 2021 appropriations to bring BRT to a 19-mile corridor with 21 stations from Pomona to Rancho Cucamonga. The project summary still up on the FTA website (from February 2018) indicates they wanted a $65 million CIG grant and expected a signed grant agreement in 2019, so the project has apparently been redesigned since then. (The original summary called for 60-foot articulated buses; the press release says they will be 40-foot electric buses.)
  • Everett, Washington: Swift Orange Line BRT Project. This project receives $37.2 million in fiscal 2021 appropriations for an 11.3-mile BRT corridor with 13 stations between Lynnwood and Mill Creek. Per the original project summary, they were originally envisioning a $41.7 million CIG grant, so that has been reduced a bit. (Also, the original project description shows a Medium-Low rating, so presumably they got a re-rating since then.)
  • Seattle, Washington: Madison Street BRT Project. This project (summary here) receives a total of $59.9 million in fiscal year 2020 and 2021 appropriations for a 2.3-mile, BRT corridor from downtown Seattle to Madison Valley, operating diesel-electric buses.

The funding “allocation” process is the formal setting aside of a specific dollar amount of enacted appropriations for a specific project. In order for the project to actually receive funding, a project grant agreement has to be negotiated between FTA and the local sponsor and signed by both parties.

These allocations leave just $30.4 million in available small start appropriations for further allocation by the Biden Administration, as shown by the table below. (This does not count funding under the American Rescue Plan to give extra funding to ongoing projects to ease the financial burden on the non-federal partners.)

The CIG Small Starts Program Since 2016

Millions of dollars. As of April 5, 2021.
FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20 FY21
Total Small Starts Appropriations $407.8 $400.9 $526.5 $100.0 $200.0
Signed Grant Agreements: Date
FL Ft. Lauderdale WAVE Streetcar 10/12/17 $11.0 Project canceled May 2018
MI Laker Line BRT 2/9/18 $56.8
FL Jacksonville Flyer East 2/23/18 $16.9
MO KC Prospect MAX BRT 4/9/18 $29.9
WA Everett Swift II BRT 4/9/18 $43.2
IN Indy Go Red Line BRT 5/14/18 $50.0 $25.0
NM Albuquerque BRT 8/30/18 $50.0 $25.0
MN Minneapolis Orange BRT 6/19/19 $74.1
AZ Tempe Streetcar 9/24/19 $50.0 $25.0
NV Virginia Street BRT 9/24/19 $40.4
WA Spokane Central Line BRT 1/21/20 $53.4
OR Portland Division Trasit BRT 1/23/20 $87.4
FL Jacksonville SW Corridor BRT 1/24/20 $16.6
NY Albany River Corridor BRT 1/24/20 $26.9
TX El Paso Montana Corridor BRT 3/13/20 Funding was allocated from FY 2016 appropriations
FL St. Petersburg Central Ave. BRT 7/28/20 $21.8
FL Miami-Dade South Corridor 8/27/20 $100.0
Subtotal, Allocated and Signed $307.8 $373.9 $121.8 $0.0 $0.0
Allocated, but Unsigned:
CA Sacramento Riverfront Streetcar $50.0
WA Seattle Center City Streetcar $50.0
IN Indianapolis IndyGo Purple Line $27.0 $50.5
NY Albany Wash.-Western BRT $60.9
UT Ogden Weber State U. BRT $64.5 $10.6 $3.2
WA Vancouver Mill Plain BRT $24.9
WI Milwaukee East-West BRT $4.0 $37.0
OR Portland MAX Red Line $100.0
PA Pittsburgh Downtown-East End BRT $100.0
NC Raleigh Wake Bus New Bern BRT $35.0
CA San Bernardino West Valley BRT $86.8
WA Seattle Madison Street BRT $17.5 $42.4
WA Everett Swift Orange Line BRT $37.2
Subtotal, Allocated but Unsigned $100.0 $27.0 $404.7 $100.0 $169.6
Remaining Unallocated Funds $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $0.0 $30.4

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