Census data affects transportation funding

Transit agencies like the New York State Department of Transportation, the Department of Motor Vehicles and Capital District Transportation Authority are encouraging people to fill out the census because its results affect how more than $675 billion in federal funding is spent on transportation.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal Department of Transportation’s Highway Planning and Construction program alone distributed more than $38 billion, the fourth-largest amount of federal funding that was impacted by census results.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development distributed billions more in community development block grants, which are discretionary funds that local governments can choose to use on roads.

Census data also affects which areas are classified as urban and which as rural. This categorization impacts eligibility for federal funds. For example, the U.S. DOT’s Urbanized Area Formula Grants are extended to urban areas and to governors to spend on transportation in urban areas. The U.S. DOT defines an urban area as “an incorporated area with a population of 50,000 or more,” with the population count determined by the census.

According to the George Washington Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University, an undercount, which would lead to an underestimate of a state’s population, would result in a lower share of transportation funding for that state, while undercounted local areas would also receive less project funding.

State agencies rely on census results to inform how money is spent on transportation infrastructure. Many states, for example, use census numbers to allocate revenue from gasoline sales tax.

Data from another survey conducted by the Census Bureau, the American Community Survey, is used by the Census Transportation Planning Products program to provide state and metropolitan transportation agencies with more detailed information about how people travel.

CDTA: Starting Monday, April 6, fare collection will be suspended on all CDTA services, including paratransit services, as passengers are asked to use the rear doors to board and exit buses. Those with wheelchairs, mobility issues or other special needs may use the front door. This step is the latest in an effort to encourage social distancing whenever possible.

The CDTA’s revised weekday schedule remains in effect.

CDTC: The Capital District Transportation Committee has published its directory of senior transportation options. This provides senior citizens with the name, contact information, services and fees of the options available in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties. The CDTC cautions that some of the information may be altered because of the coronavirus pandemic and advises users to call providers or check their website for updates.

Have a question about transportation in the Capital Region? Email [email protected] and include your name, town and phone number or tweet @abigail_rubel.

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