By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
8:21 PM EST, November 9, 2011
Maryland will receive $2 million from the federal government to improve the delivery of transportation services to veterans and their families under a program announced Wednesday in Baltimore by the nation's No. 2 transportation official.
John D. Porcari, deputy U.S. transportation secretary, returned to the state where he served two stints as transportation chief to announce that two Maryland groups would each receive a grant to help ensure that veterans receive better information about bus service and other rides available in their communities.
The grants, announced ahead of Veterans Day, are part of a $35 million distribution of federal money to programs in 32 states.
Providers of transit services say the money will help direct information to veterans through, for example, kiosks in veterans centers and military bases.
Porcari was joined at a news conference at Maryland Transit Administration headquarters by Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Sarbanes, both Maryland Democrats, and MTA chief Ralign T. Wells.
A $1.6 million grant will be administered by Central Maryland Regional Transit, a nonprofit corporation that operates Howard Transit and the Connect-a-Ride service in the Interstate 95 corridor, to improve transportation information on the Western Shore. Delmarva Community Transit will use a $400,000 grant to provide service on the Eastern Shore.
Porcari said the grants were intended to ensure that "every veteran who needs a ride can find [one]."
Mary Handley, mobility manager for the Delmarva transit agency, said the money would not be used simply to provide information about bus service. She said her agency would also use the grant to connect rural-area veterans and their families with van services to take them to appointments such as health care visits.
Porcari said the money for the grants came out of existing appropriations.
The deputy transportation secretary used the occasion to urge Congress to pass pending legislation to provide tax credits for employers who hire veterans — an Obama administration initiative that has attracted bipartisan support.
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