To the Editor:
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Jan. 19 published federal notice of available funding for federal fiscal year 2021. Under 'Table 15 Prior Year Unobligated 5739(b) Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Allocation' is listed FY2018 NJD2018-BUS C-073 Cape May County Fare Free Transportation - Fare Free Transportation Administration Building - $1.2 million.
Why has Cape May County been unsuccessful in securing these funds under an approved, obligated FTA grant? Did the county ever enter a formal grant in FTA's Transit Award Management System (known as "TrAMS") used to award and manage federal grants?
If so, are there still any outstanding FTA concerns and issues that need to be resolved as part of any ongoing grant review? Without a formal grant obligation, these funds will eventually lapse and be lost.
NJ Transit, SEPTA, and PATCO are in intense competition against transit agencies from other cities and states around the nation. It hurts NJ Transit, SEPTA, and PATCO when Cape May leaves these discretionary dollars on the table year after year. The NJ congressional delegation loses credibility when lobbying for more transit dollars.
There is no incentive for Washington to approve additional discretionary transit dollars. As each year goes by, the project cost also tends to increase. The dollar value of the earmark does not. In the end, taxpayers, commuters, and transit employees are the losers.
NJ Transit, SEPTA, and PATCO all face short and long-term multibillion-dollar capital and operating dollar shortfalls. This has grown worse with Covid. Every dollar counts. When will Cape May make this a priority and secure these funds under an approved FTA grant?
ED. NOTE: The author states he is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the FTA’s Region 2 New York office. This included the development, review, and approval of billions in grants to NJ Transit and NY MTA, which funded capital bus, subway and commuter rail improvement projects and programs, along with 30 other transit agencies in New York and New Jersey.