Federal Government Restores Funding for Annapolis Buses
Rep. John Sarbanes announced Friday that money to support the city's bus transit operations would return thanks to a provision inserted in the surface transportation reauthorization bill.
More federal dollars could start to flow to Annapolis again to help cover the costs of its bus transit operations, according to a press release Friday from Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD).
“The Annapolis bus system provides a critical service to people who depend on public transportation to get around the city,” Sarbanes said. “This change in policy ensures that people in Annapolis benefit directly from federal transportation funding and have access to service they can count on.”
The city lost the funding in part due to a Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that cities with populations over 200,000 are prohibited from using funds for operational expenses, which include things like personnel costs and vehicle maintenance.
A change made in 2002 to census policy roped Annapolis in with the greater Baltimore area, putting its population well over 200,000.
According to the press release, that's now been fixed thanks to a measure included in the surface transportation reauthorization bill.
An exception the DOT guideline was created for transit systems that operate fewer than 100 vehicles. Annapolis’ bus transit system is well below the limit.
Alderman Ian Pfeiffer (D-7th Ward) chairs the city's transportation committee.
"My understanding is that this basically means that certain types of grants that we typically get from the federal government can now be used for a wider range of purposes," he said.
Pfeiffer said it would give his committee more flexibility, and he speculated that it might also allow the city's transportation department to apply for federal and state grants that were previously closed to Annapolis.
Mayor Josh Cohen weighed in on the issue saying he appreciates Sarbanes' dedication to the city.
“We are grateful the Congressman understands the demands that an urban transit system puts on a small city," Cohen said. "I applaud his commitment.”
The bill has also been passed by the U.S. Senate, and it was sent to the president for his signature.