News Releases

Northwest Washington Transportation Projects Pass Full Senate

Sep 17 2009

Funding for Whatcom Smart Trips, fleet replacement will support growing regional transportation use, help grow regional economy

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that funding she secured for Northwest Washington transportation projects in the Fiscal Year 2010 Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill has passed the full Senate.

As Chair of the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has fought to secure federal support for local Washington state projects that create jobs and invest in long-term growth.  

 “I am proud to support Northwest Washington priorities like Whatcom Smart Trips in Bellingham, which will help grow the regional economy and meet the rapidly growing demand for transit,” said Senator Patty Murray. “These investments in Northwest Washington transportation priorities will help commuters, they will help communities, and they will help the economy.

Whatcom Smart Trips, Bellingham: $750,000
This funding will help to continue and expand the Whatcom Smart Trips program, which promotes various types of alternative transportation in the region.

This program is hoping to build upon its current work of promoting just under 1 million walking, bicycling, ridesharing and transit trips, and has set a goal of achieving an annual 8-12% reduction in drive-alone vehicle trips in Whatcom County.

“We have very high expectations for Whatcom Smart Trips,” said Jim Miller, Executive Director of the Whatcom Council of Governments.  “Speaking only in terms of roadway capacity, the value of an 8-12% reduction in vehicle trips is many millions of dollars.  The value of demonstrating this trip reduction approach for the rest of the country is all the more valuable, and the contribution to our environment is priceless.”

The following additional projects were included in the bill for the Northwest Washington region:

Whatcom Transportation Authority Fleet Replacement Project, Whatcom County: $1,000,000
This funding will assist in the acquisition of 10 bio-diesel buses to replace aging vehicles for the Whatcom Transportation Authority.

The acquisition of new, more fuel-efficient buses will allow the Whatcom Transit Authority to maintain its extensive transit services, which saw a 26% increase in ridership in 2008.  The new buses will also help to reduce carbon emissions and relieve the financial burden that WTA is currently facing from maintaining and fueling a rapidly aging fleet of buses. 

“WTA’s record-breaking ridership continues,” said Richard Walsh, General Manager of WTA.  “We saw a 26% increase in 2008, which amounts to 1 million additional one-way trips. While this is great news, the reliability of our service could soon be seriously compromised. WTA is in dire need of funding to replace our aging vehicles if we are to continue to meet this growing demand.”

Vehicle Research Institute – Advanced Materials Transit Vehicle Design, Western Washington University: $750,000
This funding will provide for the design, engineering and manufacturing of two prototype small-city transit buses at Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute in Bellingham, WA.

The development of small, carbon fiber, fuel-efficient, low-floor transit vehicles designed for small city service will significantly reduce operating and maintenance costs for smaller transit agencies throughout Washington State, allowing for the expansion of transit services and helping small communities to reduce their carbon footprint.