July 2, 2012
From a Department of Transportation News Release
WASHINGTON, July 2, 2012 – Veterans and their families will have better access to local bus, vanpool and other transportation options with $29 million in grants, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.
During a conference call with reporters, LaHood said the grants will fund 64 projects in 33 states to help veterans, wounded warriors and their families find affordable rides to jobs, and job training, education, and health facilities.
“Ensuring that our veterans and military families have access to quality, convenient transportation is just one way we can thank them for their service,” LaHood said. “With these transportation grants, we will help connect veterans and military families with the jobs and training opportunities they deserve, as well as the medical care and other services they need, all located close to home.”
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, funded and managed by the Federal Transit Administration, supports efforts by local governments and transit agencies to implement technologies — ranging from smartphone applications to real-time transit bus locator information — that make it easier for veterans and others to access and schedule rides on available buses, vans, taxis and other transportation systems.
The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is more than 12 percent, more than four percentage points above the national average.
“America’s war heroes deserve a chance to support their families, participate in their communities, receive job training and get to work,” said FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, who was in Lee County, Fla., for the announcement. “It’s vitally important that we remove barriers to success by making transportation available wherever our veterans choose to live, work and receive care.”
For example, Lee County, Fla., is receiving $1.4 million to fund information kiosks at locations that include a new Veterans Affairs Department outpatient clinic in Cape Coral, where veterans can readily obtain real-time information on rides and schedules, day or night.
Also, a $450,000 grant for the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority in Dayton, Ohio, will make it easier for returning and retired veterans and those who have disabilities to arrange for rides by phone, smartphone or on the Web, officials said. Dayton is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and 80,000 veterans, officials noted.
Rogoff said the transit administration received 81 eligible proposals requesting $41 million for this second round of the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grants, reflecting strong demand for the program. In fiscal 2011, FTA awarded $34.6 million for 55 veterans’ transportation projects around the country.
LaHood said the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, which he chairs, is a partnership of federal departments working to better coordinate federal programs on behalf of people with disabilities, older adults and individuals with lower incomes. The council developed the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, he added.