Illinois investing $57 million in vehicles for public and nonprofit transit providers

February 21, 2024

Illinois will spend $57.1 million to add 500 paratransit vehicles to the state’s public transportation grid. The vehicles will strengthen community mobility while serving the needs of seniors and those with disabilities. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will deliver the vehicles to 50 public transportation and 63 nonprofit providers. The timeline for vehicle manufacture and delivery is between six months and two years, state officials said.

The awards are part of IDOT’s Consolidated Vehicle Procurement (CVP) program, a competitive grant initiative to help public transportation providers acquire ADA ramp- and lift-equipped paratransit vehicles. This grant cycle is supported by $54 million in federal funds and $3.1 million from the state.

For more than two decades, the CVP program has helped smaller transit agencies navigate red tape while ensuring vehicles meet federal ADA compliance and specification standards. Paratransit systems supplement mass transit fixed-routes by providing individualized rides that do not operate on set routes or timetables.  

“Transit is an essential service that allows our urban, suburban and rural communities to survive and thrive, providing transportation to people who might not have any other option,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said in a release. The program allows transit providers to buy vehicles in large volume, lowering public cost compared with if they were purchased individually or in smaller amounts, state officials said.

Illinois’ transportation agency will issue 371 and 137 paratransit vehicles to public transportation and nonprofit providers, respectively. IDOT will replace 399 aging or out-of-service vehicles, while expanding service with 109 additional vehicles.

Rides Mass Transit, serving 18 counties in southern Illinois, will receive the largest award – 41 vehicles valued at $5.4 million. The vehicles will replace vehicles with odometer readings greater than 270,000 miles.

The list of awardees also includes 30 vehicles for Shawnee Mass Transit District valued at $3.6 million as well as 20 vehicles for Jackson County Mass Transit District valued at $2.5 million. Nonprofits receiving vehicles include Senior Services of Central Illinois Inc., the Riverside Foundation and the Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities.

IDOT will buy 50 battery-electric paratransit vehicles using a $12.3 million award from the Federal Transit Authority’s (FTA) FY 2023 Low or No Emission Vehicle Program.

The FTA recently made $1.5 billion available in FY 2024 to support state and local efforts to buy or modernize buses, improve bus facilities and support work development.

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Photo by Steve Morgan

Paul Stinson

Paul Stinson has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including a decade covering the legislative and regulatory affairs of Texas, South Africa, and Germany for an affiliate of Bloomberg, L.P. His experience includes covering voting rights and the sectors of environment, energy, labor, healthcare, and taxes. Stinson joined the team in October as a reporter for SPI’s news publications, which include Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the newly-launched Government Market News. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow. He holds a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.   

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