Obama administration funds Martha’s Vineyard buses

A handful of VTA passes increased in price at the beginning of this year. — File photo by Susan Safford

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced Tuesday it will award $13.2 million to 10 Massachusetts Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to make needed capital investments including new bus purchases and facility repairs. The Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) is on the short list.

According to a press release, the VTA will receive $1,085,000 for three 40-foot buses and one 30-foot bus.

“The good news for the VTA is that in spite of trying and uncertain fiscal times, we’re still managing to get capital and operating funds that are necessary to keep the transit system current and moving forward,” VTA administrator Angie Grant told The Times in a phone call. “These four units will bring us current with our fleet replacement plan and represent 13 percent of our fleet. We have 32 units and are replacing four.”

Ms. Grant said the new 40-foot buses would mostly be in service on Beach Road and replace 12-year-old buses that have been running on that route since it started. The new buses have two passenger doors, which makes loading and unloading more efficient.

The funds awarded to the VTA are available as part of the Obama Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative that allows states to repurpose unused federal transportation earmarks (from 2003 to 2006) for use on highway and transit projects that are able to obligate the funds by the end of the year, according to the release.

“The Obama Administration has made a smart decision to put unspent dollars into necessary projects that create jobs,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “These projects reflect our commitment to improve public transportation for residents across the Commonwealth.”

“The VTA carried 1,183,056 bus passengers in fiscal year 2012, which is a 6.7 percent increase over the prior fiscal year,” Ms. Grant said. “It was our best year ever.”