Rep. Dahlkemper, FTA Announce $7.2 Million Federal Grant for Erie Metro Transit Authority Print E-mail
Friday, 08 October 2010 14:20
Erie—Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan today announced that the Erie Metro Transit Authority (“the e”) has received $7,213,218 in federal funding through the FTA’s State of Good Repair program.

The Erie Metro Transit Authority will use the FTA grant to construct a new transit operations facility near East 14th and Parade streets to replace its existing facility. The current building, which does not adequately serve the current bus fleet, was constructed in 1967.

“This federal grant will make a major impact in Erie and will result in significant cost savings to the transit authority. The new, state-of-the-art maintenance facility will improve the transit authority’s workflow, efficiency and energy consumption,” Rep. Dahlkemper said. “By providing better maintenance to their impressive array of buses, the Erie Metro Transit Authority will have a leaner, more reliable operation. That’s good news for everyone riding ‘the e’ and the environment. These funds will go a long way to helping the transit authority strengthen and modernize its transportation services well into the future.”

The current maintenance facility at 127 E. 14th St. has no dedicated space for repairs, has inadequate parts storage areas, does not have enough repair bays with vehicle lifts and has insufficient ventilation.

In addition, the paratransit facility, which houses the LIFT buses, is not large enough for the fleet and is located about 1.5 miles away from the main Erie Metro Transit Authority facility at 825 W. 18th St. It is difficult for the transit authority to control the costs of its services while operating two major centers of operation, especially given the age of the buildings.

The new 105,000 square-foot facility will house 18 maintenance bays, a fueling facility and bus wash bays. It is expected to be completed in 2012.

“This funding is wonderful news for the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority and will help provide a much-needed update to their facilities,” said Senator Bob Casey. “I have been a strong advocate for this project, both with this grant and through the appropriations process. I am pleased to see that this federal funding will be used to ensure that the people of Erie are provided with a more reliable and energy efficient means of transportation.”

The federal funds for the new maintenance facility were secured through the Federal Transit Administration’s new State of Good Repair discretionary grant program. In all, 152 projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia were awarded a combined $776 million through the program.

The FTA, a branch of the U.S. Transportation Department, reviewed nearly 400 projects applications from urban and rural transit providers before deciding on the grant winners.

“America’s transit users want bus service that is safe, reliable, comfortable, and clean,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan. “These funds will go a long way in helping more than 100 urban and rural transit agencies deliver the high quality bus service that Americans deserve.”

This federal grant will help complete part of a broader $30 million expansion detailed in the Erie Metro Transit Authority’s joint operations facility plan. The plan calls for the transit authority to eventually own nine acres between French and Parade streets and East 14th Street south to the CSX railroad tracks. The majority of the properties in that area are blighted and vacant.

The expansion plans, which transit officials expect could take up to10 years to complete, will accommodate the growth the transit authority expects between now and 2050.

“This funding is going to help us meet our goal of replacing our 43-year-old facility,” said Dennis Solensky, executive director of the Erie Metro Transit Authority. “We very much appreciate the efforts our federal legislators have made in ensuring that this money comes to ‘the e,’ and in turn, into our community.”

Erie Metro Transit Authority’s ridership in its 2008-09 year was 3.3 million. The transit authority currently operates 73 full-sized buses, 65 LIFT buses, and six trolleys. The transit authority employs 230 people.