The Frederick County Board of Commissioners Thursday unanimously approved pumping $996,892 into the county’s TransIT bus service.
Four of the five commissioners also voted unanimously to allow TransIT to apply for a $3,893,420 grant from the Federal Transit and the Maryland Transportation administrations in fiscal 2014, which starts July 1.
The grant request from the federal government is $2,620,395 with another $1,273,025 from the state.
There is no guarantee that TransIT will receive the money. In fiscal 2013, federal and state grant funding for the replacement of two vehicles was denied, TransIT Director Nancy Norris said.
As a result, TransIT was forced to return $988,835 to the county because it was a matching grant, Norris said.
Along with the new $996,892 matching grant from the county, the federal and state funding would go toward maintenance and operating expenses for nine connector buses, six shuttle buses, and a paratransit service for senior citizens and those with disabilities.
The funds will also be used to replace three vehicles.
“This is a great benefit for citizens,” Commissioner C. Paul Smith (R) said. “TransIT is a great asset to our seniors as well as those that are less affluent.... Clearly this is a service for the entire county. It clearly has a role to get people to work and shopping.”
In fiscal 2012, ridership totaled 909,804 in one-way passenger trips, an 8.84 percent increase over fiscal 2011, according to TransIT’s most recent annual report.
Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) excused himself from the TransIT discussion and vote because he is co-owner of Yellow Cab in Frederick, and considers it a conflict of interest.
Norris told the commissioners that the grant money will be used to maintain the current TransIT system. It will not be used to expand bus service in the county.
The grant funding requests are due at the federal and state transportation agencies on March 8.
“This will help with our maintenance,” Commissioner David P. Gray (R) said.
Gray and Smith, along with commissioners Kirby Delauter (R) and Billy Shreve (R), also approved a written agreement between the county and the city to install bus shelters throughout Frederick. TransIT will sell advertising space on the bus shelters to raise money.
No number was given on how many bus shelters will be installed.
“The bus shelters are a way to generate additional revenue,” Norris said.
There is no cost to the county to install the shelters, she said.
In return, the county will share the revenue generated from the sale of advertising, with the vendor installing the shelters.
Now that the agreement has been approved, the county will draft a proposal to solicit bids from vendors to install the shelters.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen approved the agreement with the county on Feb. 7.
The primary function of the shelter is to protect TransIT passengers during inclement weather, according to the eight-page agreement. Each shelter will include a bench made of aluminum and will be designed to prevent potential riders and others from reclining or lying down.
The county will review and approve all advertising to be placed on the shelters, under the agreement.
Advertising will be prohibited for false, misleading or deceptive statements; alcohol or tobacco-related products; sexually explicit or obscene material; messages harmful to minors; profanity; and references to violence, illegal activities and anti-social behavior.
The shelters will be inspected by the city and owned by the county.