SEPTA Successful in 2011 Grant Competitions

November 23, 2011

Selected for Funding Under Four FTA Programs

Last week, SEPTA netted $6.44 million from two Federal Transit Administration (FTA) discretionary funding programs. The Authority has now received four FY 2011 FTA competitive grants totalling $26.44 million. Together, these funds have helped to solidify SEPTA's position as an industry leader in efforts to utilize sustainable technologies in ways that make its vehicles and infrastructure more efficient.

The two recent awards were part of the FTA's competitive Fiscal Year 2011 Sustainability Initiative, which includes funding from two FTA grant programs: "Clean Fuels" and "TIGGER" (Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction). According to a U.S. DOT press release, "Clean Fuels Grant recipients were awarded competitively based on the project's ability to help communities achieve or maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and carbon monoxide while supporting emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses." TIGGER funds "were competitively awarded based on the ability of projects to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while providing a return on the investment."

Under the Clean Fuels program, SEPTA was selected to receive $5 million to replace aging diesel buses with state-of-the-art hybrid-electric technology. This funding allow SEPTA to expand its fleet of 472 hybrid buses, already one of the largest totals in the United States.

Under the TIGGER program, SEPTA was selected to receive $1.44 million to install the second of its planned series of "wayside energy storage systems" at substations that power the transit rail system. The first, a pilot project funded in part by a $900,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority, received national attention for its innovative use of an emerging technology, and its incorporation of new "smart grid" platforms to maximize economic value. The TIGGER-funded storage device represents SEPTA's intentions to bring the project to scale and implement this energy-saving technology system-wide.

The grants provide a crucial resource for SEPTA to improve its sustainability performance towards its goal of reducing energy intensity. In a statement, SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey emphasized that "the new hybrid buses and the wayside storage project will play major roles in SEPTA's overall effort to reduce energy consumption," SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey said. "These clean, efficient technologies are helping SEPTA control costs and improve the quality of life in the communities we serve."

But the funds are also part of SEPTA's broader initiative to seek out new sources of funding to renew its infrastructure. In October, SEPTA also was selected to receive $20 million under the FTA's "State of Good Repair" and "Livability" initiatives - $15 million for hybrid-buses, and $5 million for a "livability" project to rehabilitate an historic bus facility in the heart of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood at 33rd and Dauphin streets in North Philadelphia.

FY2011 Competitive Grant Program SEPTA Project Funds Received
FTA State of Good Repair Hybrid Buses $15 Million
FTA Livability 33rd & Dauphin Loop $5 Million
FTA Clean Fuels Hybrid Buses $5 Million
FTA TIGGER Wayside Energy Storage $1.44 Million

Given the lingering uncertainty surrounding the future funding levels, coupled with SEPTA's existing backlog of infrastructure investment need, any increase in capital funds for the year provides a much-needed lift. The $26.44 million will advance projects that provide multiple benefits: reducing energy consumption, upgrading infrastructure, and providing SEPTA riders and the residents of Greater Philadelphia with higher quality transit service that is more efficient, community-building, and environmentally sustainable.

SEPTA will continue to seek out new and innovative solutions to advance these objectives. From a sustainability perspective, its 2011 successes reflect federal buy-in to SEPTA's program - a confidence in its ability to spend funds wisely and in ways that will add value to the regional transit system. SEPTA will extend this approach to future projects as new funding opportunities emerge.

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