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Fewer Local Groups Applying For FTA Matching Grants

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By Rebecca Sheir

Each year, the federal government gives the Washington region nearly $2 million to improve transit for disadvantaged people.

But this year, fewer organizations are taking advantage of the funds.

The region’s Transportation Planning Board (TPB) says for many agencies and nonprofits, the grant’s requirements are too strict.

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser helps TPB dole out funds for two federal programs: Job Access Reverse Commute, or JARC - which assists low-income workers in getting to job sites - and New Freedom, which provides transportation for persons with disabilities.

The Federal Transit Administration annually provides the Washington region with roughly a million dollars for each program.

As TPB's Beth Newman says, the organizations that receive grants have to match 20- to 50-percent of the money, depending on the type of project.

"The requirement really is a burden to some of the smaller agencies, which represents the bulk of the grantees that we’ve had to date," she says.

Newman says the economic downturn has made things worse. This year, far fewer groups applied for grants. Those who did requested smaller amounts of money.

Bowser and Newman say TPB will brainstorm potential program changes, and recommend them to the local congressional delegation.

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