Stuck in the Station

How much (or little) transit funding has Trump’s USDOT distributed?

Infographic

Transit Construction Funds Obligated 2017-

Since the Trump administration took office in January of 2017, Congress has tasked the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) with distributing billions to build and expand transit systems in cities of all sizes all over the country.

By the middle of 2018—a year and a half into the president's first term—they had awarded just two full-funding grant agreements for new, multi-year transit projects. Over the next two years, following pressure from the media, public outrage, and congressional probing, USDOT made some laudable progress, finalizing grant agreements for 20 new transit projects and improvements.

Given the progress, we are no longer updating this page (as of June 29, 2020) but we will still be monitoring the department's actions and stand ready to reapply the pressure. The delays must not return. USDOT needs to continue advancing these projects through the pipeline in a timely manner and obligate federal funding for improving and expanding transit.

$4,635,451,044 appropriated by Congress to USDOT
$1,955,037,288 awarded to date
Transit Projects Awarded 2017-18 Funding
  • Albany, NY River Corridor BRT (FY18)1
  • Albuquerque, NM Central Avenue BRT (FY17 & 18)1
  • Bay Area Caltrain Electrification (FY17)2
  • Dallas, TX DART Red & Blue Line Platform Extensions (FY17 & 18)2
  • El Paso, TX Montana Avenue BRT (FY20)1
  • Everett, WA Swift Green Line BRT (FY17)1
  • Grand Rapids, MI Laker Line BRT (FY17)1
  • Indianapolis, IN Red Line BRT (FY17 & 18)1.4
  • Jacksonville, FL Red Line BRT (FY17)1
  • Jacksonville, FL Southwest (Purple Line) BRT (FY18)1
  • Kansas City, MO MAX BRT (FY17)1
  • Los Angeles, CA Purple Line Subway Extension, Section 3 (FY19)3
  • Maryland Purple Line LRT (FY17)3
  • Minneapolis, MN Orange Line BRT (FY18)1
  • Orange County, CA Streetcar (FY17)3
  • Portland, OR Division Transit Project (BRT) (FY18)1
  • Reno, NV Virginia Street BRT (FY18)1
  • Seattle, WA Federal Way LRT extension (FY19)3
  • Seattle, WA Lynnwood LRT extension (FY17 & 18)3
  • Spokane, WA Center City BRT (FY18)1
  • Tempe, AZ Streetcar (FY17 & 18)1
Transit Projects Awaiting Funding*
  • Albany, NY Washington-Western BRT1
  • Chapel Hill, NC North-South BRT1
  • Hudson County, NJ Portal North Bridge2
  • Indianapolis, IN Blue Line BRT1
  • Indianapolis, IN Purple Line BRT1
  • Kansas City, MO KC Streetcar Main Street Extension3
  • Lake County, IN West Lake Commuter Rail3
  • Milwaukee, WI East-West BRT1
  • Miami-Dade County, FL South Corridor BRT1
  • Minneapolis, MN Blue Line (LRT) Extension3
  • Minneapolis, MN Green Line (LRT) Extension3
  • New York City, NY Canarsie (L) Line Improvements2
  • New York City, NY Second Avenue Subway Phase II3
  • New York City, NY Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service (BRT)1
  • Ogden, UT Ogden/Weber State University BRT1
  • Phoenix, AZ Northwest LRT extension Phase II3
  • Phoenix, AZ South Central LRT extension3
  • Pittsburgh, PA Downtown-Uptown-Oakland-East End BRT1
  • Portland, OR MAX Red Line Extension1
  • Raleigh, NC New Bern Avenue BRT1
  • Sacramento, CA Riverfront Streetcar1
  • San Francisco, CA Transbay Core Capacity Program2
  • Seattle, WA Center City Connector Streetcar1
  • Seattle, WA I Line RapidRide (BRT)1
  • Seattle, WA Madison Street BRT1
  • Seattle, WA Roosevelt RapidRide (BRT)1
  • St. Petersburg, FL Central Avenue BRT1
  • Tacoma, WA Pacific Avenue BRT1
  • Vancouver, WA Mill Plain BRT1
  • * Projects listed as "awaiting funding" are those that were rated "medium" or higher (and would therefore be eligible for funding based on the federal statute) according to USDOT’s most recent publicly available annual report. Breaking from the practice of past administrations, the Trump administration no longer publishes an annual list of new transit projects they recommend for funding.
  • 1 Small Starts project
  • 2 Core Capacity project
  • 3 New Starts project
  • 4 USDOT obligated $25 million for Indianapolis' Red Line BRT from FY2018 funding. However, that project already had a Small Starts construction agreement in place and received $50 million from FY2017. Small Starts grants are typically given in one installment; it's unclear why this grant was split between multiple years, though it could be another way that USDOT is slowing down funding for transit projects.

It’s time for USDOT to fulfill its promises and get these projects moving.

USDOT has been slow rolling transit funding ostensibly because the administration doesn’t like transit. Bulldozers and heavy machinery are sitting idle. Steel and other materials are getting more expensive by the day. Potential construction workers are waiting to hear about a job that should have materialized yesterday. And everyday travelers counting on improved transit service are left wondering when USDOT will do their job and get these projects moving.

These funding delays have very real ramifications by increasing project costs, halting construction in places with small fair-weather windows, and potentially jeopardizing projects altogether.

What does “obligating” funding mean? In this case it means simply having Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sign a grant contract for a project that’s already been in the federal pipeline for years. USDOT has already identified the projects that will receive grants, Congress has approved overall funding levels, and local projects have accounted for this federal money in their budgets.

Local communities are just waiting on USDOT to advance their projects in a straightforward, transparent, and expeditious manner, and then for Secretary Chao to put pen to paper and actually deliver the money they’ve been promised.

For more information about individual projects, please see the FTA’s page on CIG grant projects.

Note: In addition to the projects in the list, funds were also obligated to the Tacoma, WA LINK extension and the San Rafael, CA SMART commuter rail extension in Spring 2018, but both projects actually received funding still left over from FY 2016. FY16 appropriations were originally signed on December 18, 2015.

Tired of waiting? Demand action now.

Time is money and the clock is ticking. Communities can’t keep waiting for the Trump administration to do what the law requires.

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The impact on jobs across the country

These slowdowns will have real-world effects for the 2,700 transit manufacturers and suppliers across 49 states that employ more than 15,000 people. Learn more about the transit supply chain.