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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Capital Investment Grants Program

New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity Improvements

New Starts and Core Capacity Process

What's New

  • On February 16, 2021, FTA rescinded the “Dear Colleague” letter on the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program issued by FTA on June 29, 2018. The Biden Administration will rely on the CIG statutory framework to ensure projects awarded funding have met the requirements of federal public transportation law, the Major Capital Investment Projects Final Rule, and the CIG Final Interim Policy Guidance.

  • In September 2020, FTA announced a final rule amending FTA’s Project Management Oversight of transit capital investments, which redefines a “major capital project” as one with a budget of $300 million or more and with a federal investment of at least $100 million, allowing FTA oversight to be tailored to modern costs and risks for projects.  


This FTA discretionary grant program funds transit capital investments, including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit. Federal transit law requires transit agencies seeking CIG funding to complete a series of steps over several years. For New Starts and Core Capacity projects, the law requires completion of two phases in advance of receipt of a construction grant agreement – Project Development and Engineering. For Small Starts projects, the law requires completion of one phase in advance of receipt of a construction grant agreement – Project Development. The law also requires projects to be rated by FTA at various points in the process according to statutory criteria evaluating project justification and local financial commitment. For a complete discussion of the CIG process and the evaluation criteria, please see FTA’s Policy Guidance.

Sponsors of capital investment grant projects should also become familiar with the transportation planning and environmental review process requirements that apply to projects funded by FTA. Find information on the transportation planning process and the environmental review process