Last week, we at the Federal Transit Administration were celebrating the achievement of a very important milestone: FTA beat the Sept. 1 deadline for providing all states and local communities at least half of their Recovery Act transit dollars.

Not only did we meet that critical goal, but we went even further. Working with nearly 600 transit providers around the country, FTA has awarded 88% of its Recovery Act transit formula funds - that's $6.7 billion of the $7.5 billion apportioned through ARRA!

In celebrating this accomplishment, I couldn't be more encouraged as I reflect on how those funds are being put to use rebuilding our nation's transit infrastructure, creating good jobs around the country, improving the environment, and reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.

I was especially pleased to be in South Bend in July for the groundbreaking of the 167,000 square-foot Emil "Lucky" Reznick Operations, Administration and Maintenance Facility, the largest transit project to be built in Indiana in over a decade. The state-of-the-art, energy-efficient facility will replace the current transit center, which was originally built to serve horses and wagons in the 1880s.

Other new multi-modal transit facilities are being built in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In addition to providing comfortable waiting areas and many other amenities for passengers, one transit center in Knoxville, Tennessee is being upgraded to include such energy efficient features as a geothermal heating and cooling system and energy-saving light fixtures with occupancy sensors.

Much needed repairs and refurbishment are also being made to ferry systems in Washington State, New York, Maine, California, and Puerto Rico. In some locations, ferries will be upgraded to allow greater capacity and accessibility to persons with disabilities; in others, ferry landings will be improved to allow better vehicle and pedestrian access.

Across the country, thousands of clean fuel buses are replacing diesel-powered vehicles that have outlived their useful lives. These new buses will be more accessible and will mean cleaner air today and a better environment for our children in the future.

And let's not forget the track and bridge repair, new rail cars and locomotives, and new signal systems that are so vital to our nation's rail transit systems. Passengers can look forward to riding to work in safer, more comfortable trains--that will get them to work and back home on time.

Reinvesting in the nation's transit systems has the added benefit of putting Americans back to work. The $6.7 billion obligated by the Federal Transit Administration thus far will create nearly 73,000 jobs that would not have otherwise existed. By the time the entire $7.5 billion has been obligated, more than 80,000 Americans who would have found themselves out of work will be able to feed their families, pay their mortgages, and make repairs on their cars.

We're well on our way to the finish line, but there is still much to be accomplished. I encourage you to take some time browsing our ARRA Grants Digest to truly get a feel for how the Federal Transit Administration is moving forward to deliver on the Recovery Act's goals.

PHOTO: Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff at groundbreaking ceremony for NJ Transit's Mass Transit Tunnel, which received $130 million in Recovery Act funds.

http://fastlane.dot.gov/2009/08/federal-transit-administrator-peter-rogoff-americas-transit-systems-are-on-track.html