Gainesville will buy 12 new buses and build a new Eastside transfer station as part of a $10.6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.
Mayor Lauren Poe announced the grant award at Mainstreet Daily News’ inaugural Newsmaker Interview Series event on Monday at Santa Fe College. The city provided local details of the grant on Wednesday.
The FTA received 303 grant applications under its buses and bus facilities program and funded 70 projects in 39 states. The FTA announced a total of $409.3 million in grants, and Gainesville was one of 12 places to receive more than $10 million from the program.
One key to improving traffic flow and traffic safety in Gainesville is having a “more robust” public transit system, Poe said at the newsmaker event Monday. Grants like the one from the FTA help the city pay for upgrades.
“As we increase more transit and density, you’re going to see that the flow and the sort of system work a lot better, but it’s just gonna take time,” Poe said.
The city will spend $6.6 million of the award on 12 replacement buses for its 132-bus fleet and $4 million on the Eastside transfer station.
According to a press release, the new buses will include upgrades such as better fuel efficiency, seats made out of material that is easier to clean and non-slip floors. The Regional Transit System (RTS) team will switch out buses based on mileage and age.
The city expects the buses to arrive within 15 months, said Tom Idoyaga, a Gainesville community service specialist.
“This will be the newest fleet we’ve ever had,” Idoyaga said in a press release.
Money for the nationwide bus grants is coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. The FTA bus program is designed to help state and local governments modernize buses and construct transit facilities, according to the FTA website.
“Transit agencies are replacing aging buses and facilities with newer, cleaner infrastructure that is more efficient to operate and maintain,” FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said in a press release announcing the national grants.