AC Transit, Central Subway, Economic Stimulus, Muni / SFMTA, Rincon Hill / Transbay / South of Market, San Francisco, Transit Funding

FTA and TIFIA Funds for AC Transit, Central Subway, and Transbay

This week, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced various grants, including money that will be coming to the Bay Area. One pot of money in the ARRA federal stimulus bill that we have not yet discussed here are the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) grants. Not to be confused with the TIGER grants (which have not yet been announced), TIGGER grants are awarded to applicants pursuing programs that are specifically geared toward greenhouse gas reduction. The money could be used for technological upgrades, or it could be used to replace diesel buses with hybrids, which is what will happen in states like Nevada, Michigan, and Alabama. But before you get too excited, only $100 million is available nationwide, and the FTA has spread that money thinly among 43 transit agencies. AC Transit received the third-largest allocation in the bunch: a $6.4 million grant for photovoltaic modules. From the USDOT press release:

Install photovoltaic capacity to generate “green” hydrogen: Install multiple PV modules at its Central Maintenance Facility in Hayward. Combined with AC Transit’s already-installed solar capacity, this solar installation will produce the renewable electricity equivalent to what will be required to produce 180 kg/day of “green” hydrogen.

Separately, the FTA also announced that the Central Subway has received a $9.9 million grant, which will the SFMTA will apply toward carrying out further design of the T-Third Street light rail extension from 4th & King, through South of Market to Chinatown. The federal government will ultimately supply roughly $950 million toward this project (about 60% of  the $1.57 billion that is now believed will be the total cost). To date, the Central Subway has received $66 million of federal New Starts funding.

Finally, no hard cash, but some good news, for the Transbay Transit Center. The most recent dispute between the TJPA and the CHSRA about where high-speed rail should terminate in San Francisco may have jeopardized our chance to secure a $400 million high-speed rail discretionary grant to build to the Transbay subway station box, but that is not the only piece of federal funding that the TJPA has sought. Since long before the stimulus plan, the TJPA planned to pursue a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan as one of many sources of money for the transit center. (The TIFIA loan is the same funding mechanism that BART will use so that it can build everyone’s favorite transit project, the Oakland Airport Connector. This recent post on the OAC is an illustrative cross-reference for those who delight in the minutiae of TIFIA.) Anyway, in October 2008, the TJPA applied for a $171 million TIFIA loan, which would cover a little over 14% of the capital costs for the first phase of this two-phase, $4.2 billion project. And just last week, the Credit Council unanimously recommended approval of the $171 million TIFIA loan. The Secretary of Transportation will produce a term sheet and loan agreement, which the TJPA Board is expected to approve this November.



3 thoughts on “FTA and TIFIA Funds for AC Transit, Central Subway, and Transbay

  1. TIFIA loans are bad – that’s the worst part of the BART financing scheme for OAC. The loan practically guarantees that the cost of the OAC is going to be borne by BART riders through fare hikes and service cuts. Can HSR afford to be in hock to the Feds?

    Posted by dto510 | 24 September 2009, 10:38 am
  2. It’s clearly preferable, as a general rule, to not borrow money if it can be avoided. I would also caution, though, against a “one size fits all” evaluation of TIFIA, and esp. comparing to the OAC, which is such an unusually bad project that spending $550 million will actually bring negative “benefit.”

    Posted by Eric | 24 September 2009, 10:52 am


  1. Pingback: High-Speed Rail Stimulus Grants Announced « Transbay Blog - 28 January 2010

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