Last week, President Barack Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 (House Resolution 3288). Within the bill was a $2.77 million appropriation for Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) for its bus rapid transit (BRT) program on the Monterey Peninsula.
The $2.77 million in federal funding will be matched by $700,000 in California Proposition 1B Transportation Bond funds, which were approved state-wide by voters in 2006. The nearly $3.5 million project will fund improvements along the Fremont/Lighthouse corridor, including new shelters, “smart” signals at intersections that will be coordinated along the corridor to improve traffic flow, curb expansions, sidewalk improvements and wheelchair accessible ramps at bus stops, and electronic real-time bus arrival/departure signs connected to MST vehicles via Global Positioning System (GPS).
Coupled with these infrastructure improvements will be enhancements to the operations and scheduling of the transit lines that serve the Fremont/Lighthouse corridor. What is now a nearly one hour trip from residential areas in upper Seaside to work locations on Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium on two buses with a transfer in downtown Monterey will be replaced with a quicker “one-seat-ride” on a single BRT vehicle.
MST’s BRT project was awarded funding by the Obama Administration based on its ability to meet or exceed certain metrics and performance measures required by the Department of Transportation’s Very Small Starts transit capital improvement program targeted for projects totaling less than $25 million. With project funding now in place, MST will be working in the coming year with design and engineering consultants to finalize plans for the BRT system.