Dayton RTA to get big bump in federal funds

Extra $11 million to go towards trolley bus system, capital projects

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority will receive about 35% more in federal funding this year owing to the infrastructure bill that lawmakers passed last fall.

The Greater Dayton RTA will receive about $41.6 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration — or nearly $11 million more than in the last federal fiscal year.

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

That $41.6 million is second only to Cleveland in Ohio, as Cincinnati and Columbus are receiving just under $30 million each. RTA CEO Robert Ruzinsky said that’s because of Dayton’s established trolley bus system. He said Cleveland was the big winner ($65 million) in part because of their rail system.

Nearly half of the Dayton funding (47%) will go toward the RTA’s “fixed guideway” trolley bus system, and the agency says this will help modernize the power distribution systems serving its trolley buses.

Funding likely will be put toward substation replacements and rebuilding some trolley wires and poles.

Most of the rest of the money will be used for capital purchases and projects, such as replacing the roof and HVAC systems at the main bus garage.

“RTA is very appreciative of these increased federal capital funds, which are part of the national infrastructure bill,” Ruzinsky said. “We will use the vast majority the funds to support the rebuilding of our electric trolley bus power system, to help ensure another 50 years of trolley bus service for the Dayton region.”

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Ruzinsky said the federal funds make up 21% of RTA’s operating budget.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, praised the Federal Transit Administration for making $259 million available for transit projects across the state.

“These funds will make a huge difference for every Ohioan,” says a statement from Portman, who was one of the lead lawmakers who worked on the infrastructure bill.

Ohio will receive $1.3 billion of guaranteed transit formula funding over the next 5 years — a record investment in public transit, according to the office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

“This is the beginning of the largest investment in Ohio’s public transportation ever,” Brown said in a statement.

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