Over $4.4 million awarded for rural Minnesota transit systems

Over $4.4 million awarded for rural Minnesota transit systems

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Rural Minnesotans who use a transit system in their area could see a significant upgrade in buses.

Out of the $7 million in funding set aside for Minnesota, more than $4.4 million of that will go to rural transit services to purchase new buses throughout the state.

”If the infrastructure is not good in any area, that shuts off economic opportunity to the residents,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

It can even affect and hinder most parts of our lives.

”They may not be able to get to the store that has the least expensive goods. They may not be able to get to school on time, get to work on time or they have to spend extra money and time,” explained Chao. “Time is money and their quality of life decreases.”

The State of Minnesota spends roughly $8 million per year using state and federal funds to replace vehicles for rural transit. This grant really assists this funding process.

USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao says new grants will improve safety and reliability of local bus systems

”This is more than half of a year’s worth of funding,” said Mark Nelson, assistant director for the Office of Transit and Active Transportation in Minnesota. “We have a great need as we have $15 million worth of vehicles that are beyond their service life in 2021 and we are putting $8 million towards that so an additional $4 million is a huge deal.”

Service life for a transit bus varies judging by both size and mileage. Shorter buses need to be replaced more often and that’s where a lot of this grant money will go.

”Eight to 10 years is a time period that we like to replace a lot of those buses in and many of those are much older,” said Nelson. “We know there is an unmet need and this will get us much further along as far as meeting that unmet need.”

The updated buses will ultimately make the rural fleet state-wide in better condition and less expensive to maintain while operating more effectively.

For a complete list of the transit grants, click here.

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