The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority has finally submitted its application for a $4.71-million Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery Grant VI with the U.S Department of Transportation.
If approved, the grant will go toward COTA’s plan to build a Fixed-Flex Route and Paratransit System on Saipan—essentially a public transportation system.
The TIGER grant comprises both a capital and planning grant.
COTA administrator Tom Camacho said the capital grant amounts to $3.71 million while the planning grant is $1 million.
“We submitted the grant on April 28 and we should be hearing from USDOT before or on September,” Camacho said.
Part of the capital grant will be used to buy eight 24-passenger low floor medium-built buses, he said.
Camacho also noted that about $450,000 would go to bus stop infrastructure. This requires setting up 150 temporary bus stops that have already been identified by an ad hoc committee under the Commonwealth Public Transportation Advisory Board.
It will also be used for three transfer stations and one mobility hub for the fixed-flex route system.
About $185,000 will be used to purchase transit technologies such as smart cards, GPS vehicles, radio, and PDA communications.
Of the funds that will remain, it will be spread out based on the bus system’s five-year service plan: A total of $570,000 will be used in Year 1, $320,000 in Year 2, $220,000 in Year 4, and $220,000 in Year 5.
As for the $1 million planning grant, about half will be used to create a sustainable transportation master plan for the CNMI that will guide the islands’ transportation system for 25 years and beyond. Camacho said this would be the road map for the next 25 years for COTA.
The other $500,000 will be used for the expansion of the CNMI-Guam ferry system feasibility study.
“Basically, the planning grant of the TIGER grant will be expansions and planning toward Rota, Tinian, and Guam,” said Camacho.
He said the bus route system will first be launched on Saipan and eventually on Tinian and Rota.