The Texas Transportation Commission approved an award of $19.1 million for public transportation providers in Texas last Thursday at its monthly meeting, held in Austin.

Locally, the Transit System, Inc. was awarded $40,000 to support transit costs and an additional $62,500 for rural vehicle bus replacement for transportation in Hood and Somervell counties.

The funding will support transit costs, including transportation for elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities; transportation for employment, job training and childcare; and vehicle fleet procurement and rehabilitation.

“This is one of the most substantial transit funding awards we have ever approved at one time,” said Hope Andrade, commission chair. “It reflects our commitment to working with our partners in public transportation statewide, and it means a lot to individuals in smaller communities who depend on public transit daily.”

The commission also approved a $2.5 million award in transportation development credits for various public transportation capital projects. Of that, the Transit System, Inc. received $15,000 to cover the cost of the local match in those counties.

Transportation development credits (TDCs) - formerly known as toll credits - became a stronger funding option as a result of federal legislation sponsored by Congressman Michael Burgess (R-Lewisville) in 2005.

TDCs are earned when local and state funds are used to construct toll facilities. The federal government credits states for their investment in these projects by allowing them to be used to offset other transportation expenditures. State and federal law permit the substitution of toll credits as the required matching for many transportation projects.

Public transit funding for large, metropolitan areas is handled directly by the Federal Transit Administration. During 2007, Texas’ rural and small urban transit agencies provided nearly 22 million rides.