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Answer: Yes. Prior to 2013, federal transit law permitted the use of FTA grant funds for costs associated with including art in public transportation projects. This was one of several types of projects termed “transit enhancements” for which transit agencies were required to spend a certain amount of their FTA formula grant funds. Beginning in FY 2013, federal transit law no longer included art as an eligible project expense. (49 U.S.C. 5302, as amended by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), P.L 112-141.) In response to this change, FTA advised that while works of art not integral to a facility, such as sculptures, would no longer be eligible, transit agencies could continue to use FTA funds to support the employment of an artist as a member of a design team, or other costs associated with art, provided that the artistic elements were integrally related to the facility or served a functional transit-related purpose. With the enactment of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), P.L. 114-94, in FY 2016, Congress established a new prohibition on the use of FTA funds for “incremental costs of incorporating art or non-functional landscaping into facilities, including the costs of an artist on the design team.” (49 U.S.C. 5323(h)(2) as amended by FAST.)
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(e), complementary paratransit service must be available during the same days and hours that fixed route service operates. Thus, if an individual can travel from a given origin to a given destination on a particular fixed route at a certain time of day, a paratransit eligible person must also be able to travel from the same origin to that same destination on paratransit at that time of day. Because paratransit service is required to be available during the same hours and days as the fixed route system, and because not all fixed routes will necessarily be operating at a given time on a given day, the shape of the paratransit service area can be expected to change accordingly. For example, it is common for certain routes to not run late at night. Those routes, and their associated paratransit corridors, do not need to be served with paratransit when the fixed route system is not running on them.
Answer: Determinations of benefits and burdens are based on the totality of the circumstances, both the burdens of the proposed action (e.g., short-term construction impacts) and its benefits (e.g., increased transportation options). One of the best ways to assess the totality of the circumstances is through a robust and inclusive public engagement program. Meaningful public engagement helps identify transit needs of EJ populations and a proposed project’s, or group of projects’, burdens and benefits. Grantees should be specific about the benefits of the project. Over emphasizing or providing too much weight to benefits such as “increasing property values,” “removing blight”, etc. are broad sweeping statements that are often not properly substantiated or might be perceived as benefits to some populations and burdens to others. Therefore, if these types of benefits are raised, please be aware that the adverse effect of such growth on low-income populations may need to be addressed.
How can a grantee address project benefits that are not directly related to resilience, such as improvements to safety, asset management (SGR), or operational efficiencies?Answer: This purpose of this program is to provide funding for projects that make the regional public transportation system more resilient to future extreme weather events and other disasters. Consistent with the evaluation criteria listed in the Notice of Funding Availability, FTA will evaluate proposed projects based entirely on their resilience benefits and the ability of the project sponsor to carry out the project. To the extent that a project may have other incidental benefits, these may only be described to the extent they relate to the stated evaluation criteria. The overall purpose and complete benefits of the project may also be summarized in the project description.
Answer: Public policies at the federal, state, and local levels can foster coordination through funding requirements, offering incentives for improvements in coordination, and requiring transportation and human service providers to demonstrate strategies and efforts to coordinate resources at the local level. Interested organizations and individuals can contact their state to ascertain what plans and actions are being planned and implemented for human service transportation coordination at the state and local levels. Locally, consumers should be actively involved in the planning and development of human service transportation services, including the development of policies and programs at all levels. Efforts to expand the availability and accessibility of transportation services should cut across age and disability boundaries and seek to include such rider groups as older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with lower income.
Answer: Most national Veterans Service Organizations have state and local chapters who may be ideal partners for the VTCLI. See the VSO information on the VTCLI Resources page. You can also use the Department of Veterans Affairs Location tool to find the nearest VA facilities in your community.
Answer: Historically, FTA prohibited the encumbrance of title to FTA-assisted property because FTA viewed any lien against, or other conveyance of, FTA-assisted property as a disposition. In recognition of the fact that many joint development arrangements require conveyance of an interest in FTA-assisted property, FTA may now approve of conveyances for joint development. However, a joint development project must not interfere with the project sponsor’s continuing control over the use of the property or their ability to continue to carry out the originally authorized purpose for which the property was acquired. Furthermore, project sponsors must adhere to all requirements designated in the original FTA grant that assisted in the property’s acquisition. Additionally, the project must satisfy all the eligibility criteria and other requirements of FTA joint development policy.
Answer: Mobility management is eligible as a capital expense and can be used to coordinate new mobility services with traditional public transportation and other alternative services. The purpose of mobility management is to improve coordination among existing public transportation providers and other transportation service providers in order to expand the availability of transportation options. The FTA supports the National Center for Mobility Management, which provides technical assistance.
How can my agency receive reimbursement for emergency recovery work performed after January 29th, and which does not qualify under Categories 1-3?Answer: Emergency recovery work that does not qualify under Categories 1-3 may be funded under the prorated allocations announced on March 29th, 2013, or under a future allocation of Emergency Relief funds. Grantees should provide FTA with a list of projects prior to beginning work in order to verify eligibility.Grantees have pre-award authority for the amounts allocated to them in the March 29, 2013 Federal Register Notice of Allocations, including for work performed after January 29, 2013 (and not in a contract, RFP or budgeted force account prior to January 29) provided that all federal requirements are met or a waiver is granted using the waiver request process detailed in the Notice of Availability of Emergency Relief Funding. Such costs are incurred at the grantees own risk, and there is no guarantee that such costs will be approved for Federal funding.Projects that have costs in excess of the amount allocated in the March 29 notice must request a Letter of No Prejudice (LONP) from the FTA Regional Office prior to incurring costs if they intend to seek Federal funding at a later date. The issuance of an LONP does not guarantee that the project will either be allocated funds or approved for reimbursement.
Answer: SSO Formula Grant Program funds may be used to develop or carry out SSO programs under MAP-21. Funds may be used for operational and administrative expenses, including training, travel and equipment. States must follow the guidance provided in the Federal Register notice, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), CWP Template, and other guidance on the SSO Program webpage. While the responses below are intended to clarify common questions about eligible activities, FTA will review each proposed grant activity during the grant application process and will make specific eligibility determinations at that time. States must comply with 49 C.F.R. Part 18, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments, and 2 C.F.R. Part 225 (PDF). Specific questions should be directed to the appropriate regional office.
How do grantees address the difference between Census data for low-income populations which are a weighted average every ten years with yearly HHS poverty levels?Answer: Census data provides mean information on household characteristics such as income and race at a variety of geographic levels: census tract, block group, and block level. The decennial census is published every ten years. The American Community Survey is published annually, based on a smaller set of the population. Census data provides a geo-spatial understanding of the community. It is helpful to be familiar with Census data across multiple years in order to identify trends in the community. Whenever possible, attaining data at the block group level is recommended. Census data are used primarily for statistical purposes, for example, to produce statistics on the percentage of those living in poverty. Thresholds like the HHS poverty guidelines are primarily used for administrative purposes such as determining whether a person or family is financially eligible to receive assistance or other services under particular federal, state, or local government programs. In the context of an environmental justice analysis, Census data will help identify the population living in certain geographic area that may be considered “low income” or “minority” – geo-spatially identifying areas where environmental justice populations could be located. HHS poverty guidelines will help determine whether the community's median household income is at or below HHS poverty guideline, thereby qualifying the population as “low-income” under FTA’s program definition.
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125(g), transit operators must “establish an administrative appeal process through which individuals who are denied eligibility can obtain review of the denial.” The transit operator may require that any appeal be filed within 60 days of the denial of an application. The appeal process must include an opportunity for the applicant to be heard and to present information and arguments. Decisions regarding the appeal cannot be made by anyone who was involved in the initial decision to deny eligibility. The transit operator must provide the individual with written notification of its decision and the reasons for it. The transit operator is not required to provide paratransit service while the appeal is under consideration; however, if a decision has not been made within 30 days of the completion of the appeal process, the operator must provide paratransit service from that time until and unless a decision to deny the appeal is issued.
Answer: If a participant acquired a van before joining the vanpool program, the value of the van should be calculated by applying straight-line depreciation beginning on the date the van was first used in the program and subtracting any federal, state or local participation, as cited in FTA circular 5010.1D.
Answer: While FTA does not set a threshold for satisfying the Economic Benefit or Transit Benefit criteria, it does require project sponsors to demonstrate that the joint development meets the criteria. FTA may decline approval for a joint development if the project sponsor does not sufficiently address these criteria. FTA does not set a value or monetary threshold for satisfying the Economic Benefit criterion. A project sponsor may satisfy this criterion by demonstrating that the project adds economic value to development activity occurring near a transit facility, including but not limited to new housing, office, retail, or other commercial activity. Private investment may be monetary or it may take the form of in-kind real property, commercial or residential development, or some other benefit to be generated initially or over the life of the joint development. Similarly, FTA does not set a threshold for satisfying the Transit Benefit criterion. A project sponsor may satisfy this criterion by demonstrating that the project enhances the effectiveness of a transit service (e.g., increases transit ridership, reduces travel times, or enhances transit operations) or enhances multi-modal coordination between a transit service and another transportation mode (e.g., builds parking, adds bike racks, or improves pedestrian access to transit). Additionally, a project must have a physical or functional relationship to transit. FTA only requires that a project sponsor identify the forecasts, reports, or studies that demonstrate the satisfaction of the Economic Benefit and Transit Benefit criteria. Project sponsors are not required to submit these documents along with their joint development project requests, unless requested by FTA.
How do I protect the federal interest and maintain continuing control of FTA-assisted property through a joint development agreement?Answer: Joint development agreements that convey FTA-assisted property must ensure that the transit access and use are not restricted and that access to the real property for its original transit purpose will be maintained. Furthermore, the agreement should ensure that all other pertinent FTA requirements for use of the real property for joint development, including crosscutting federal requirements, such as planning and environmental review, are satisfied by specific terms and conditions. These joint development agreements must include provisions that: Extend the requirements of the original FTA grant as necessary; Ensure that the project sponsor maintains satisfactory continuing control of the property; Ensure that the federal interest in the property will be reasonably protected; and Ensure that the federal interest in the property is protected following any further transfer of the property. These requirements should not be a deterrent to the pursuit of joint development. It is FTA’s policy to give project sponsors maximum flexibility within the law to enter arrangements with the private sector and others that are suitable to the joint development and the parties involved.
How do I submit a complaint regarding a public transit agency’s failure to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations?Answer: Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require transit agencies to have a complaint process. If you believe an ADA violation has occurred, we encourage riders to first file a complaint or otherwise communicate with their local transit agency to give them an opportunity to resolve the situation. If you find the transit agency to be unresponsive, after waiting a reasonable amount of time for a resolution, you may decide to file a complaint with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Office of Civil Rights. The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for ensuring that providers of public transportation comply with ADA requirements. A complaint form, with mailing instructions, can be found here. A complaint should contain enough details for an investigator to understand why a complainant believes a transit agency violated the ADA and include specifics such as dates, times, and route numbers of incidents, along with any related correspondence from the transit agency. The Office’s enforcement priority is on repeated issues—not one-time operational breakdowns—so it may be important depending on the nature of the complaint allegations to keep a log of incidents, again with dates and times, to submit with the complaint. If you have questions about the types of complaints the Office of Civil Rights can process or on how to prepare a complaint, the Office can be reached directly at FTA.ADAAssistance@dot.gov or 1-888-446-4511.
Answer: Achieving accountability for safety in the most efficient manner possible requires the adoption of specific safety management processes and tools. SMS provides these tools, based on the results of research conducted by U.S. and British military, aviation, nuclear, and energy agencies and organizations in the 1990s and early 2000s. This research, which led to the “Swiss Cheese Model” of human behavior and accident prevention, made famous by scholar and psychologist James Reason, shows that about 80 percent of all accidents and incidents can be attributed to human error. In some industries, like public transportation, this number may be closer to 90 percent. This research also shows that when the 80-90 percent of human error is broken down further, it reveals that the majority of errors associated with accidents stem from latent organizational weaknesses, which include “hidden” deficiencies in management control processes (for example, strategy, policies, work control, supervision, training, and resource allocation) or values (shared beliefs, attitudes, norms, and assumptions) that create conditions that can cause errors and lead to accidents. SMS has been designed to identify and address these latent conditions by making executive leadership accountable for them; by requiring deference to technical expertise in evaluating and mitigating them; and by fostering a culture of information sharing in the performance of work and the implementation of identified controls and risk management strategies. SMS demonstrates that the decisions and activities of executives, managers and supervisors determine what is done, how well it is done, and when it is done, either contributing to the strong safety performance of the organization or further weakening its resistance to error and accidents.
Answer: An EJ impact on a long range plan could become apparent through public engagement and distributional analysis. Some impact areas to consider at the regional planning level include: access to the transportation system, multi-modal options, transportation affordability, noise and vibration, air pollution, impacts to housing availability, affordability, and services in the area, etc. Keep in mind that the defining element of an “EJ impact” is 1) whether there is an impact, and 2) whether that impact disproportionately impacts those who are low-income and / or minority.
Answer: The credit to be used as local match is calculated as follows: cost of the vans minus any Federal, state or local government assistance received.
How does a grantee request funds for emergency repair projects that fall outside the scope of the three categories outlined in the notice?Answer: In addition to allocating funds for expenses under categories 1-3, FTA has allocated approximately $1.4 billion to applicants based on projected overall recovery costs as detailed in damage assessments conducted to date and validated by FTA over the past several months. These allocations were published in the Federal Register on March 29, 2013. Recipients may apply for eligible projects in TEAM up to the total amount awarded.