NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Transportation will use federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to provide rural residents with better access to daily public transit.
One of the bus lines will be a Woodbury-Readyville-Murfreesboro route operated by Treece Industries of Murfreesboro, scheduled to begin operation in the middle of this year.
Vice President Joe Biden announced federal approval of TDOT's plan to use $3.1 million in Recovery Act funds to expand direct intercity bus routes on Friday, March 5. The funds will be used by existing intercity bus carriers to purchase 23 buses, security equipment, support vehicles, computers, intelligent transportation system software, for ADA enhancements to vehicles and preventive maintenance.
TDOT announced the first intercity bus routes in the state in March 2009. The program provides fixed route public transportation services between rural areas and the state's urban centers.
"The intercity bus program provides Tennesseans in rural areas with reliable daily access to health care, jobs, schools and other services in the state's urban centers," said Governor Phil Bredesen.
"Public transportation is an integral component of Tennessee's transportation system, so I'm pleased to see these Recovery Act funds dedicated to keeping Tennesseans connected to vital services."
The Intercity Bus Demonstration Program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Multimodal Transportation Resources Division. The program is designed to provide rural communities with access to national, regional and local intercity connections.
"This program helps increase transportation choices and provides independence to the many citizens in our rural areas who are unable to drive," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "The expanded access to intercity bus routes will help improve the quality of life for many Tennesseans and can have the added benefit of reducing congestion on local roadways."
Vehicle revenue miles and ridership are two of the most important measurements of the program's performance. Since the start of the 2008-2011 Intercity Bus Demonstration Program, intercity bus service has seen a substantial increase in the total public transit vehicle miles travelled, statewide. In the first year the program covered 40% of the state with intercity bus service and in the first six months of operations carried more than 12,000 passengers. The Recovery Act funds are expected to expand the intercity bus network to cover almost 65% of the state and will expand the ability to serve more than 70,000 passengers annually by 2011, or the end of the demonstration program.
On average, $1.3 million will be available each year for the state of Tennessee to assist with continued expansion of rural transit services. The annual federal allocations are based on the non-urbanized population, the number of vehicles and counties in the service area.
For more information on the program, please visit www.tn.gov/tdot/publictrans/programs.htm.