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Rockefeller Foundation Announces $1.2 Million Grant to Support Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) In Four U.S. Cities

NEW YORK—The Rockefeller Foundation today announced a $1.2 million, four-city project to support local efforts to build bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh. In each city, the grant will support research, communications, and community outreach efforts to engage and educate local stakeholders on the benefits of BRT.

As part of its effort to “Transform Cities,” The Rockefeller Foundation’s transportation work aims to encourage economic growth and improve quality of life by helping communities to make better investments in modern, efficient and effective mass transit solutions—specifically, bus rapid transit. Bus rapid transit refers to a high performance mass transit system that delivers the permanence, speed and reliability of rail systems, along with the flexibility of bus systems, for a fraction of the cost. High-quality BRT systems provide a fast, efficient service that typically features high-capacity vehicles, dedicated lanes, elevated platforms that are level with the vehicles, enclosed stations and off-bus fare collection.

BRT systems have been proposed and are at various stages of development in each of the four cities chosen for this project:

  • In Chicago, the Foundation has been supporting the city’s efforts to develop a city-wide BRT system for several years. Chicago has the potential to build and operate the first gold-standard BRT (based on the BRT Standard) in the U.S. in its Western/Ashland Corridor.
  • In Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Port Authority’s Transit Development plan includes a proposed BRT system that would connect the downtown to Oakland areas of the city. The effort to explore BRT is being advanced by a collaborative of more than forty stakeholder organizations.
  • In Nashville, a proposed BRT route would run through the heart of the city’s downtown. The project is currently in the planning process.
  • In Boston, transportation advocates and state officials are evaluating BRT among a range of modernization initiatives for the city’s public transportation needs.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is pleased to be working with Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh in their efforts to enhance public transportation options,” says Nick Turner, managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “As America’s cities continue to grow, leaders understand that public transportation is critical to encouraging economic development and to making their communities more livable and attractive. It is what their citizens want, and high-quality BRT delivers. We are thrilled to see it gaining momentum in cities across the U.S.”

After a competitive selection process, the Foundation chose public affairs firm Global Strategy Group (GSG) to manage the grant, working in close collaboration with local partner agencies in each of the four cities. Local partners include O’Neill and Associates in Boston, The Strategy Group in Nashville, Bravo Group in Pittsburgh, and Grisko LLC in Chicago. In each city, the teams will work closely with local officials and agencies, local business leaders, community groups, nonprofit organizations and transportation advocates to raise awareness of and generate support for BRT. The project will run through the end of 2013.

“The transportation choices made by American cities over the next few years will shape the way our urban communities, economies and environments develop for decades to come,” says Benjamin de la Peña, associate director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Bus rapid transit systems that are built to a high standard can make a real difference by providing better access to jobs and services, decreasing the amount of time and money people spend on getting around, reducing congestion and air pollution and increasing quality of life for local residents.”

The Rockefeller Foundation has provided over $6 million to support efforts to expand BRT for the past three years.  Up until now, the Foundation has been primarily focused on supporting research and design, and convening efforts around BRT, including the development of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy‘s BRT Standard (The standard offers a common definition of the basics of BRT and rankings for the best BRT systems in the world). Additionally, the Foundation has provided funding to help the city of Chicago, and Montgomery County, Maryland in their plans to develop world-class BRT systems.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation aims to achieve equitable growth by expanding opportunity for more people in more places worldwide, and to build resilience by helping them prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. Throughout its 100 year history, The Rockefeller Foundation has enhanced the impact of innovative thinkers and actors working to change the world by providing the resources, networks, convening power, and technologies to move them from idea to impact. In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, The Rockefeller Foundation has a unique ability to address the emerging challenges facing humankind through innovation, intervention and influence in order to shape agendas and inform decision-making. Please visit for more information.

About Global Strategy Group
Global Strategy Group (GSG) is one of the nation’s go-to public affairs firms distinguished by its depth of talent, influential clients and winning track record. Battle-tested in the trenches of corporate reputation management and political campaigns, we bring unrivaled commitment to every assignment.  Our clients—which include Fortune 100 companies, national political leaders, associations and nonprofits—rely on GSG for candid guidance and fast, effective execution. We provide a combination of critical thinking and on-the-ground results that many other firms talk about, but few deliver. Global Strategy Group. Lead The Way.