Iowa to tap federal money to replace buses

The Iowa Department of Transportation’s fleet of buses for rural routes is poised to see a more than $4 million upgrade.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced almost $4.3 million for Iowa DOT through the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities Grant Program. All told, the department announced $211 million in grants to projects in 41 states.

For Iowa, the money is to be used to “replace buses that operate in rural areas and have reached the end of their useful life,” according to a project overview.

Brent Paulsen, research and technology manager with Iowa DOT, said the grant is to fund the replacement of 53 rural transit vehicles in 14 different Iowa communities. Vehicles are prioritized for replacement based on age and accumulated mileage, he added. A specific list of these vehicles and where they are located has yet to be released.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who helped author amendments to the bus grants funding, said in a news release Thursday the money helps provide rural Iowans with reliable transportation.

“Bus fleets across the state are falling into disrepair, and it is imperative that we continue to work to bring our transportation infrastructure into the 21st century” Loebsack said in the release.

Paulsen said Iowa’s 35 public transit systems provided 29 million rides in all 99 Iowa counties last year.

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Iowa’s project is comparable to others on the list. Grant money was approved to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses or fund projects to upgrade or replace bus-related facilities.

“These grants will improve mobility for thousands of transit riders who depend on bus service every day, expanding access to employment, education, health care, and other important services in their communities,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a release Thursday.

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