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  • Federal Transit Funding for Public Transportation on the Seacoast Reduced - Calculation changes mean $341,980 less for COAST

    Federal Transit Funding for Public Transportation on the Seacoast ReducedCalculation changes mean $341,980 less for COAST

    DOVER—Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation, more commonly known as COAST, will see its funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) reduced by $341,980 overall for FY24. The decrease is a result of changes in the calculations that determine apportionments coupled with increased growth in urbanized areas nationwide that outpaced overall funding increases.

    COAST operates in two urbanized areas (UZA)—Portsmouth and Dover-Rochester, both of which encompass communities in New Hampshire and southern Maine. Due to changes in how the Census Bureau measures changes in population, 2020 UZA determinations generally shrank most urban areas across the country (including the two areas in which COAST operates), and frequently broke off populated chunks from what had been urbanized in 2010.

    “The total effect of these changes to COAST’s federal funding essentially negates a majority of the gains in FTA funding received under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Rad Nichols, COAST executive director. “These are critically important funds needed for COAST to maintain our current service levels. In fact, we had been hoping our federal allocations might grow after the 2020 Census, which would have helped to counteract the increasing costs of providing service.”

    The Portsmouth UZA’s population grew nearly 8% from 2010 to 2020, but most of that growth was in Maine, where the UZA now extends to Kennebunkport. In New Hampshire, Exeter and Stratham were dropped from the Portsmouth UZA, as any previously qualifying population changes that connected these areas no longer meets the Census' criterion. Overall, Portsmouth's 5307 apportionment is slated to increase 1.7%, but the New Hampshire portion drops considerably (-$225,919), while the Maine portion more than doubles (+$290,248).

    The Dover-Rochester UZA’s population decreased nearly 18% from 2010 to 2020, mainly because of former parts in New Hampshire and Maine being broken off, again because their past ‘jumps’ exceeded the 2020 criteria. The end result is that Dover-Rochester UZA's 5307 funding plummeted by 20% in the New Hampshire portion (-$185,812) and by 58% in the Maine portion (-$78,880).

    In New Hampshire, the net impact is $411,731 less, or -16%, in 5307 funding for the region. That is offset partially by a $69,751, or 56%, increase in FTA 5307 funding associated with Maine that is being transferred to COAST. The total effect of these changes to COAST’s federal funding is $341,980 less, or -13%.

    “The sizable hole left by the apportionment changes underscores, now more than ever, the importance of COAST’s current and ongoing efforts to build more diverse and sustainable sources of non-federal funding,” said Nichols. “Public transportation on the Seacoast is a major economic driver—generating more than $4 in local economic activity for every $1 invested—and demand for our services is increasing. Now is an important time for our local businesses, foundations, and individuals to increase their investment in COAST.”

    Since 1982, COAST has provided over 16 million rides to people in the Greater Seacoast region, linking them to work, school, doctor appointments, shopping, and social events. This year, COAST is projected to provide over 350,000 rides (+24% over last year) within the Greater Seacoast area, connecting 11 communities with 13 bus routes. In addition to fixed bus routes, COAST also operates an advance-reservation service that provides curb-to-curb transportation for individuals who qualify based on age or disability.

    COAST was recently named 2024 Nonprofit of the Year by the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce and was recognized as the 2023 Champion of the Year by the Community Action Partnership of Strafford County.

    More information about COAST can be found at www.coastbus.org.

    About COAST

    The Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation, more commonly known as COAST, is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization and an innovative leader in providing a broad range of public transportation services, connecting and coordinating a robust network of options for everyone.

    COAST’s mission is to champion and provide customer-focused public transportation with a commitment to excellence in safety and service.

    COAST’s annual operating budget ranges between $7.5 and $8.0M. As a nonprofit, COAST’s budget is funded through a blend of sources including federal, state, and local sources. Federal funding is generally required to be matched with state or local funds, most of which COAST secures through the municipalities we provide service within, charitable contributions from businesses, individuals, and foundations as well as through specific service agreements, and advertising on the buses and in the bus shelters. To learn more visit www.coastbus.org.