The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration recently awarded the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority under the Office of the Governor $1.33 million for fiscal year 2020 to continue the development of the fixed-route system and demand response shared ride service.
The grant will be used to ensure the CNMI’s public transportation system continues the progress it has made to provide transportation access and services for hard-to-reach areas around Saipan, said Alfreda P. Camacho, special assistant for Public Transportation.
“Here at COTA planning, designing and constructing transportation projects as well as securing funding takes years, so we start with identifying needs, both immediate and anticipated. Planning remains critical, and the passionate individuals who make up the COTA team have been preparing a couple of projects to set the stage for addressing long-term needs with these new funds recently awarded to the program. My priority is to ensure that the COTA continues to progress forward with purpose and the drive to improve on the current public transportation services while actively securing other resources to help expand and develop this program for the benefit of everyone living in the CNMI,” Camacho said.
According to the FTA, the award—amounting to $1,332,861—will be used to provide operating assistance and program administration funds for COTA to “continue to launch its ‘first of its kind’ fixed route and demand response shared ride service in addition to meet changes in demand for public transportation needs in the CNMI.”
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the grant award reflects the administration’s commitment to progress for public transportation.
“By truly creating a public transportation system that is comprehensive and reaches the most underserved and vulnerable areas in our community, we are doing our part to provide services for our people while also freeing up funds in our local budget for other key priorities like education and healthcare,” Torres said.
Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios emphasized that public transportation is a crucial step in alleviating poverty.
“COTA is doing its part to making it easier for folks to find a job, go to their medical appointments, or attend classes at the Northern Marianas College. With the progress being made on our public transportation and within our Garapan Revitalization planning efforts, private sector partners are coming together to collaborate with us on a transportation system that can get people to job opportunities and visitors to our main economic attractions.” (PR)