Congress establishes the funding for FTA programs through authorizing legislation that amends Chapter 53 of Title 49 of the U.S. Code. On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, reauthorizing surface transportation programs through Fiscal Year 2020.
- See our summary of the changes to FTA’s Grant Programs.
- See FTA Program Fact Sheets under the Fast Act.
Bus and Bus Facilities
FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities program received an increase in funding of $268 million over FY15 levels, for a total of $696 million for FY16. This program helps transit agencies fund new buses, replace aging fleets and facilities, and adds a new eligibility to deploy low- or no-emission vehicles.
The FAST Act re-established a Bus Discretionary Program that allows states to apply for project-specific funding via a competitive process. Many of the grants are expected to fund replacements for aging fleets or facilities. In FY16, $268 million in funding will be available. Of that amount, $55 million has been designated for Low- or No- Emission Bus Deployment projects.
Also included in the Bus and Bus facilities program is a new pilot program for Cost-Effective Capital Investment, which encourages states to share bus funding resources among a partnership of recipients.
Section 3019 of the FAST Act changed purchasing procedures to offer more purchasing options for public transportation systems of varying sizes. Under the Act, multiple states and providers may purchase capital assets through cooperative interstate procurements. The FAST Act also created a pilot program to allow nonprofit organizations to enter into cooperative procurement contracts. Under the new procurement procedures, transit agencies can lease equipment or facilities such as low- or no-emission components. Finally, the FAST Act established a Joint Procurement Clearinghouse to allow grantees to co-purchase rolling stock within a system that helps them identify procurement partners.
The FAST ACT increases domestic percentage content requirements for Buy America through incremental increases. By FY2020, the Buy America requirement for rolling stock will total 70 percent. The FAST Act also makes important changes to the waiver denial process, requiring FTA to certify the availability and quality of the domestic sources for the product in the denied waiver.
State of Good Repair
With an estimated 40 percent of buses and 25 percent of U.S. rail transit assets considered to be in marginal or poor condition, helping transit agencies maintain bus and rail systems in a state of good repair remains an FTA priority. The FAST Act increased annual funding for FTA’s State of Good Repair (5337) program for rail from $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion.
Access and Mobility
New under the FAST Act, FTA will distribute funding under a pilot program for efforts that improve the coordination of transportation services that link with non-emergency medical care. Funding, intended for organizations that focus on coordinated transportation solutions, begins at $2 million in FY16 and increases incrementally each year, topping out at $3.5 million in FY19 and FY20.
The FAST Act renamed FTA’s research program the Public Transportation Innovation Program and authorized it to fund demonstration, deployment and evaluation research projects. The research program features a new Low- and No-Emission Vehicle component testing program funded at $3 million a year.