Region Gets $6.19M in Federal Transit Funds

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Transit systems in eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania will receive nearly $6.2 million in federal transportation funds through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

The $6,190,643 allocated to the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which covers Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Mercer County, Pa., represents the local share of the $259.31 billion in transit funding for Ohio provided by the act, also referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Nationwide, the act provide more than $20 billion for transit. 

The majority of the $6.19 million will go to Western Reserve Transit Authority, which provides bus services in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, according to Ken Sympson, director of transportation and infrastructure for Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. The rest will go to Mercer County’s public transit system. 

The allocation is about double the amount the MSA normally would get for transit funding, he said. In recent years the area has received between $2 million and $3 million, he reported. 

The federal funds will permit local transit agencies and communities to purchase new buses and railcars, address repair backlogs, modernize fleets, and transition toward a clean, American-made transportation future, according to a news release announcing the money.

“Efficient transportation and good-paying jobs are key as we work to secure a sustainable, American-made transportation future,” U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said in the news release announcing the funds. “I’m proud to have supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that helped to provide these important investments in Ohio’s economy and future.”

Dean Harris, ERTA’s executive director, estimated his system would receive at least two thirds of the funds, and about $10 million additional in all over a five-year period. He did not specify how the funds would be used but suggested they could be utilized to accelerate the timetable of some projects.

“We haven’t really put any projects into play for it yet because it just came out and we’re already halfway through the fiscal year,” he said. “We’ll start looking at the long range plan and projects that we couldn’t fund under the normal funding levels.” and we’ll try and move something forward

The funds became available following congressional passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill in March and comes from both the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund and advance appropriations provided by the infrastructure law.

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also hailed the transit funding. 

“These funds will make a huge difference for every Ohioan,” Portman said. “This is exactly why I worked so hard to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. More transit systems than ever can repair and update their buses, railcars, and facilities – bringing America’s infrastructure into the modern era.”

Brown characterized the infusion as the start of the largest-ever investment in Ohio public transportation.  

“Transit is all about the Dignity of Work — it creates jobs, it connects people to jobs, it draws in investment, and it will help communities across Ohio grow and create opportunity,” he said. “Employers, entrepreneurs, and workers have all been asking for better transit — now we’re delivering by making major investments that will create good-paying American jobs that cannot be shipped overseas, and that will help Ohio localities of all sizes all over the state thrive and grow.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.