In another hot competition for federal funds, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded more than 50 grants totaling over $400 million to build or upgrade bus facilities, including maintenance shops and terminals.

The facilities awards are among $776 million in grants which DOT announced on Oct. 4 that are aimed at cutting into the backlog of bus transit capital needs around the country. Besides the funding for facilities, DOT also awarded dozens of grants to transit agencies to purchase new buses.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood noted that his department estimated earlier this year that $78 billion is needed to bring bus and rail transit to a "state of good repair". LaHood said in a conference call with reporters, "Clearly, we need to step up our efforts to invest in modern transportation systems for the 21st Century. These bus grants are an important down payment."

He added that with the new funds, transit agencies "can finally make many of the repairs they've been putting off."

Peter Rogoff, head of DOT's Federal Transit Administration, said, "It was a very, very challenging competition." He said that FTA received more than $4.2 billion worth of applications from about 400 transit agencies for the $776 million available.

In all, FTA awarded 152 grants to state and local agencies in 45 states and the District of Columbia. See complete list of grants here.

Some of the largest grants went for facility projects.

Rogoff said, "Projects like modernizing maintenance garages are the kind of investments that transit agencies often have to defer. They're expensive and they don't always fit into annual capital budgets."

Top 10 FTA grants for bus facilities
(millions of $)
Los Angeles County MTA: New operations, maintenance facility
Worcester, Mass., transit auth.: New maintenance, operations shop
San Francisco City and County: New operations, maintenance facility
Chicago Transit Authority: Rehabs for two garages
Metro Atlanta Reg. Transit Auth.: New paratransit oper./maint. Facility
Duluth Transit Auth., Minn.: New multimodal terminal
Manatee County Area Transit, Fla.: Administration/maintenance facility
Colorado DOT: Rehab bus facilities statewide
Maryland DOT: Replace Baltimore maintenance shop
City of Gainesville, Fla.: Replace maintenance facility (phase one)
Total Top 10
Source: Federal Transit Administration, ENR