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Hampton Roads Receives 'Super Grant'

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), Hampton, VA, has received a series of federal, state and local grants totaling $49.2 million to help rebuild, repower and purchase public transit buses, improve the quality of bus stops and invest in information technology.

The funds come from a combination of several transit-oriented federal grants that HRT would normally seek over time, but with technical assistance from FTA, the Virginia-based agency applied for them all at once in a “super grant.”

“This is a significant development for HRT,” said William Harrell, president and CEO. “Assembling the necessary funds for capital investment is an ever-present challenge for us. Our capital needs far exceed our ability to raise money.”

The super grant funds, which became available July 1, include $27.7 million from federal sources, $17.2 million from Virginia and $4.2 million in local matching grants.

HRT does not have a dedicated source of revenue for capital investments, and the four revenue sources upon which it relies—farebox and local, state and federal funds—are directed primarily to operations with a small percentage devoted to capital investment. Consequently, the agency heavily relies on grants to make critical capital investments, including bus purchases.

The age of HRT’s bus fleet is 10.5 years on average—nearly four years older that FTA recommendations—with 65 percent of the fleet even older. Additionally, 33 buses have traveled between 700,000 and 950,000 miles. To extend the life of the fleet, HRT launched a program in 2013 to refurbish and rebuild its buses.
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