The Healey-Driscoll administration on May 17 announced the award of $37 million from three grant programs to support regional public transportation.

The funding will go to regional transit authorities, councils on aging, and other entities to support vehicle purchases, fleet electrification, enhancement and expansion of existing transit services, expansion of service hours, improvements in rural connectivity, and assistance with operating and capital expenses.

Through the Community Transit Grant Program, nearly $20 million is being awarded to purchase vehicles for public transportation needs, and more than $2 million is being awarded for projects expanding mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals.

Through the Regional Transit Innovation Grant program, $15 million is being awarded to increase operating and capital funding for transit providers, with 48% of the funding going to rural areas. The program was funded through the fiscal 2024 state budget.

Gov. Maura Healey said the grant funds “will go a long way to supporting the needs of organizations that provide mobility options across the state.”

“Public transportation plays a crucial role when it comes to accessibility, community connectivity, and economic growth,” she said, “and we will work to ensure that all residents have access to the transportation services they need.”

Regional Transit Innovation Grants
Eligible Regional Transit Innovation Grant project types included new and innovative service delivery models, expanded service hours or weekend service, rural connectivity, connectivity improvements across regional transit authority service areas, electrification, infrastructure, and capital investments. Out of 60 applications, 18 received funding.

RTIG funding is going to the following: Brockton Area Transit Authority; Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, and Franklin Regional Transit Authority (joint application); Cape Ann Transportation Authority (two projects); Franklin Regional Transit Authority; Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority; town of Great Barrington; town of Lexington; city of Marlborough; Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority; Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority; Montachusett Regional Transit Authority; Nantucket Regional Transit Authority; Pioneer Valley Transit Authority; cities of Revere and Chelsea (joint application); SCM and city of Cambridge; Southeastern Regional Transit Authority; and town of Winchendon.

Vehicle awards
Fiscal 2024 Community Transit Grant Program Vehicle Cycle awards are going to 43 applicants for a total of $19.72 million to fund 168 vehicles.

Through the program, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Rail and Transit Division is distributing federal 5310 and state Mobility Assistance Program funding. Vehicles to be procured include a range of minivans and cutaway vehicles, varying in size to accommodate a range of fleet needs. All models are wheelchair accessible.

Federal 5310 funds can pay for up to 80% of the cost of each vehicle. Massachusetts councils on aging, nonprofits, and municipalities must pay a 20% match. The state’s 15 Regional Transit Authorities are eligible for fully funded vehicles with state MAP funds providing a 20% match. (See full list of recipients.)

Expanding mobility
The fiscal 2024 state budget allotted $4 million to expand the Community Transit Grant Program to fund projects expanding mobility for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income individuals. Just under $2 million of that funding was awarded in November 2023.

The remaining $2.14 million was awarded to 11 projects: Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, Helping Our Women Inc., Hilltown Community Development Corporation, Lowell Regional Transit Authority, Montachusett Regional Transit Authority, town of Sudbury, Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Tri-Valley Elder Services, town of Ware, and Worcester Regional Transit Authority.