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Federal Funds Aid Wildcat Transit

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
March 23, 2011

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) has approved applications for three projects aimed at improving UNH transportation services.  The new services will debut during the next two academic years. The bulk of the $2.76 million funding will come from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program.

The Real Time Transit Information project will provide GPS-based real-time information to passengers via smart phones, computers and other Web-enabled devices and at select transit stop displays.  Transit riders will be able to see exactly where their bus is and predict arrival times at key stops. Federal funds will pay $262,500, or 80 percent, of the $350,000 total cost.      

Funding will also help launch year-round, weekday transit service to Rochester via Route 125 through the purchase of small (CNG) transit vehicles.  The service will be tailored to early- morning arrivals (as early as 7 a.m.) with stops in Barrington and Lee.  The total cost ($1.23 million; 80 percent federal money) includes three years operating assistance (a first for UNH Wildcat) and reestablishes this historic UNH-COAST transit route.

Additionally, three full-size buses will be purchased through the CMAQ program as part of the Wildcat transit fleet replacement plan. Seventy-five percent of the $1.17 million cost will be paid with federal transportation funds.

Since 2001, UNH has received more than $13 million in U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Energy funding for transportation service and infrastructure improvements ranging from new buses to Main Street reconstruction.

UNH also will benefit from a $5 million federal and turnpike funded NHDOT project to provide additional peak-hour Wildcat Transit service from Route 4 to Portsmouth during the upcoming Little Bay Bridges project. NHDOT will purchase additional buses and pay operating assistance for the service increases. At the end of the service period, the buses will become property of UNH.

Also of note, the state has recommended a $2.5 million project to implement (through a contracted service agreement with a private carrier) east-west transit service from Portsmouth to Manchester/Manchester Airport via the N.H. Route 101 corridor, with stops in Epping and Exeter.  This has accelerated UNH-Durham, Manchester and School of Law (Concord) discussions regarding connecting the three campuses with fixed route transit service.

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