What is the NTD Program?
Congress established the NTD to be the Nation’s primary source for information and statistics on the transit systems of the United States. Statute requires that recipients or beneficiaries of grants from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) under the Urbanized Area Formula Program (§5307) or Other than Urbanized Area (Rural) Formula Program (§5311) submit data to the NTD. Approximately 850 transit providers in urbanized areas (UZAs) currently report to the NTD through the Internet-based reporting system. Each year, NTD performance data are used to apportion over $5 billion of FTA funds to transit agencies in UZAs. FTA submits annual NTD reports to Congress summarizing transit service and safety data.
The legislative requirement for the NTD is found in Title 49 U.S.C. 5335(a):
SECTION 5335 National transit database
(a) NATIONAL TRANSIT DATABASE — To help meet the needs of individual public transportation systems, the United States Government, State and local governments, and the public for information on which to base public transportation service planning, the Secretary of Transportation shall maintain a reporting system, using uniform categories to accumulate public transportation financial and operating information and using a uniform system of accounts. The reporting and uniform systems shall contain appropriate information to help any level of government make a public sector investment decision. The Secretary may request and receive appropriate information from any source.
(b) REPORTING AND UNIFORM SYSTEMS — the Secretary may award a grant under Section 5307 or 5311 only if the applicant and any person that will receive benefits directly from the grant, are subject to the reporting and uniform systems.
(c) DATA REQUIRED TO BE REPORTED - The recipient of a grant under this chapter shall report to the Secretary, for inclusion in the National Transit Database, any information relating to a transit asset inventory or condition assessment conducted by the recipient.
The NTD reporting system evolved from the transit industry-initiated Project FARE (Uniform Financial Accounting and Reporting Elements). Both the private and public sectors have recognized the importance of timely and accurate data in assessing the continued progress of the nation's public transportation systems.