No matter where we live, access to jobs, groceries, health care, education, and other destinations is important to all of us. And when policymakers think about how people in small towns and rural communities get around, it's all too easy to imagine that everyone is able to travel in cars on smooth, uncrowded roads. But rural communities and small towns have higher concentrations of older adults and low-income citizens, two populations that are less likely to own cars or drive.
If we limit their transportation options to personal automobiles, we risk isolating vulnerable Americans from the community--and from the economy.
That's why the Federal Transit Administration makes sure that communities of all shapes and sizes have access to critical programs like the Bus and Bus Facilities initiative, State of Good Repair grants, and Alternatives Analysis. Today, from South Carolina to South Dakota and Arkansas to Wisconsin, these programs are making a big difference.
In South Carolina, the Waccamaw Regional Transportation Authority serves a region covering the Myrtle Beach tourism employment opportunities as well as the several colleges and medical centers inland in the cities of Conway and Georgetown. The transit agency also provides service to employment centers like International Paper and Georgetown Steel and the Conway-Horry County Airport. A State of Good Repair grant for $144,000 in bus equipment will help this growing region maintain its current fleet and the expected needs of its future planned fleet.
And in South Dakota, a $116,000 grant from the State of Good Repair program wil help the city of Sioux Falls purchase a 30-foot paratransit bus to provide crucial service to those who are physically unable to access the city's regular, ADA-compatible buses. During the next two decades, the population of Sioux Falls is expected to nearly double; at the same time, its population will likely age. That combination leaves Sioux Area Metro needing to ensure that its shared-ride, curb-to-curb paratransit service vehicles are reliable and ready for action.
The FTA is also awarding a Bus and Bus Facilities grant of $436,000 to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and a $220,800 State of Good Repair grant to nearby Appleton. The Oshkosh Transit system will purchase two 35-foot replacement buses, and the city of Apppleton will replace bus shelters, improve its ADA facilities, and purchase bus parts. These two grants will go a long way toward helping area residents get where they need to go, safely and reliably.
Is any one of these five grants among the largest amounts the FTA awards? No. But in each of these five communities, these funds will make a significant difference to the recipients and to the residents they serve. If we are going to work together, as one nation, toward an America that's built to last, we need to make sure that we're thinking about people of all incomes and abilities and projects of all sizes.
I'm happy to see that the Federal Transit Administration is doing just that.