$100M in stimulus funding for local transit

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes more than $8 billion for transit. The funds were doled out using formulas based on a transit agency's size. In the Bay Area, the San Francisco MTA (also known as Muni), carries the most passengers and is therefore getting the most money.

The San Francisco MTA is getting the biggest slice of the stimulus pie -- $67.2 million for a variety of maintenance and renovation projects including reconditioning doors and steps on 150 light rail vehicles and preventative maintenance on buses. The funding will mean an estimated 2,000 jobs, either saved or created, some in the private sector.

However, spokesman Judson True says there will still be layoffs in this bleak budget year.

"The stimulus money, if we didn't have it, things would be a lot worse," said True.

Wednesday, the Golden Gate Bridge District renamed a refurbished ferry from Washington state. The district is getting $8.6 million in stimulus dollars to refurbish another one just like it, and Caltrain is getting $9.3 million for track and signal rehabilitation across its entire system.

San Mateo County Transit gets nearly $8 million for 132 new buses. Vallejo will receive $7.6 million for renovations to its bus and ferry facility, ferry engine replacement and maintenance. Concord will get $4.3 million for bus maintenance.

Transit advocate Stuart Cohen says the money could not come at a better time, with the state cutting a billion dollars from transit.

"So this is really just plugging some holes that we have in the dyke and we actually need additional transit funding just to keep operators whole and to keep them from further cutting service and further raising fares," said Cohen.

And he says while it might stimulate the economy, it won't fix transit funding.

"This money that's coming out of the stimulus is going to be a one-time shot, and next year if we don't find some new funding source to somehow replace all of these state cuts, we're going to be faced with transit Armageddon in the region," he said.

There is still more stimulus transit money on the way. The recovery act set aside $8 billion for high speed rail. California just happens to have a high speed rail system in the works and is expected to get the lion's share of that $8 billion.

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