The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority’s application for a $1.079 million competitive grant to help improve transportation access for veterans and their families was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Authority, according to Thomas J. Camacho, special assistant for Public Transportation.
The Veterans Transportation & Community Living II grant application was submitted in April to help improve access to local transportation for veterans, their families, including military personnel and their dependents, by helping them find affordable rides to work, school, shopping, medical care, and other destinations in the CNMI.
According to the grant application goal, the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority will build and equip a One-Call/One-Click resource and information center to coordinate current and future public transportation services for thousands of veterans and military personnel living in the CNMI.
“We applied for $1,079,600, of which $1,029,600 [will be used] to establish and implement a One-Call/One-Click Center and $50,000 for marketing, outreach, coordinated planning, and evaluation of the system,” said Camacho, who is also chairman of the Commonwealth Public Transportation advisory board. “Fortunately, because we qualify for federal matching waiver under this discretionary grant and pending approval, we’ve requested a waiver of the federal matching requirements for U.S. insular areas.”
“This is certainly welcome news considering the over 80 grant applications that were received, of which only 64 applications approved. We were the only U.S. territory and 33 other states that got approved while Guam was awarded in 2011,” Camacho said “This is just another step in creating and expanding affordable, flexible, accessible, and responsive transit system for our veterans, other citizens, and guests alike. We are excited and look forward to working with our partners and supporters in initializing, implementing and sustaining this worthy project.”
Funds will be used to support project administration costs; a temporary one-call/click center, software transportation system with hardware and communications, inclusive of driver tablet, automatic vehicle location system, and mobile data terminals; software for scheduling, e-fare, dispatching, billing, communications; consumer mobile applications; computers and accessories for project administration, A&E and building construction to house a permanent one-call/click service center to be administered and maintained under COTA. Grant goals and objectives will be completed within two years.
“Currently we have veterans from our neighboring islands of Rota and Tinian who are experiencing difficulties with accessing transportation to meet their doctor’s appointment on Saipan. This problem is just one of the few and we are glad we can now have the ability and future technology to address it,” said Camacho. (Office of the Governor)