Charlotte, NYC, Boston Bike Share big winners in new federal grant program

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PowerPoint - 34th Street Transitway(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) UPDATED POST Charlotte is getting $24 million for a streetcar, New York City has half the funding in hand -- $18 million -- for a 34th street Bus Rapid Transit line , the only true BRT planned for New York City, (NYC DOT rendering above) and Boston's bike share gets $3 million. Those are some of the grants announced in a $300 million package unveiled by the Federal Transit Administration Thursday.

The funding comes from the federal "liveability" program. The feds say localities applied for $3 billion in funding, with $300 million available.

And it comes as localities are reeling from budget cuts. New York's MTA just cut two train lines and cut or modified 76 bus lines, and the city and state budgets aren't much rosier. So the $18 million is "huge boost" says New York City DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. It will comprise half of New York's funding for the 34th street project, with the rest coming from the MTA, the city, and another funding stream.

The 34th Street busway, is envisioned as what Sadik-Khan has called "the first real Bus Rapid Transit corridor" in New York -- it will be the only place in the city where bus lanes will be fully physically segregated, end-to-end, blocking the usual NYC practice of just driving, walking, or biking, wherever you want, whenever.

It will connect the Javits convention center, Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and Macy's to the east side of Manhattan. The federal money almost guarantees the project will be built -- and the city hopes to have it completed by 2012.

Charlotte is another city that won big -- the city is undergoing population growth, and it'\s light rail has already attracted businesses, as former Mayor Pat McCrory told me last spring. It will get 24 million for a streetcar loop downtown.

Also of note on the list, and something of a stand-out: Boston's bike share, struggling to launch, got a $3 million infusion of funds. "It's pretty complex to get bike share off and running," Boston's bike share director, Nicole Freedman, told Transportation Nation. This puts one of the major challenges, which is funding, in a very, very good place." The grant shows that bike share advocates' argument -- that bike share isn't about riding in the park, but about adding to the transit infrastructure -- is now shared by the federal government.