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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer:

During Project Development, prior to the completion of the environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), FTA will work with project sponsors to assess the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives still under consideration and provide technical assistance on how to meet the requirements to enter Engineering. Technical assistance may include workshops or other methods focusing on the readiness requirements to enter Engineering.

Formal oversight will generally begin at the completion of NEPA and will be tailored based on the how far the project has advanced in design, the complexity of the project, and the project sponsor’s capability to undertake engineering and construction.

Answer:

Under certain circumstances, a for-profit taxi company may be an eligible subrecipient under this program. As defined in MAP-21, eligible subrecipients for this program are a State governmental authority, a private non-profit organization, or an operator of public transportation that receives a grant under this section indirectly through a recipient. Therefore, some for-profit taxi companies may be eligible under the latter section of the definition.

Under previous policy, FTA declared taxi companies that provide shared-ride taxi service to the public or a segment of the population as operators of public transportation (see FTA FAQs for the Section 5310, 5316, and 5317 programs). Assuming the project is eligible under the section 5310 program, as amended by MAP-21, and the service provided is shared-ride, the company may be an eligible subrecipient.

“Shared ride” means two or more passengers in the same vehicle who are otherwise not traveling together. Similar to general public and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) demand response service, every trip does not have to be shared-ride in order for a taxi company to be considered a shared-ride operator, but the general nature of the service must include shared rides.

Local (municipal/State) statutes or regulations, or company policy, will generally determine whether a taxi company provides shared-ride or exclusive-ride service. For example, if the local regulation permits the driver to determine whether or not a trip may be shared, the service is not shared-ride. Similarly, if the regulation requires the consent of the first passenger to hire a taxi be obtained before the taxi may take an additional riders, the service is not shared-ride. In essence, services which can be reserved for the exclusive use of individuals or private groups, either by the operator or the first passenger’s refusal to permit additional passengers, is exclusive-ride taxi service, and is not shared ride. A recipient passing funds through to a taxi company subrecipient should request documentation from the taxi company to assure the company is providing shared-ride service. Under certain conditions, the taxi service may also be eligible as a third party contractor.

Answer:

PIPP waiver and modification requests will be reviewed by FTA based on the following criteria:

  1. Are the proposed experimental features prohibited under current policies and procedures?
  2. Does the waiver or modification request extend beyond procurement issues covered by the PIPP?
  3. Will an approved waiver or modification request improve the delivery time, quality, and/or cost of the project?
  4. Will an approved waiver or modification influence future Federal public transportation policy and procedures?
  5. Is there a plan by the project sponsor for evaluating how the features of the waiver or modification will contribute to the overall success of the project?

The overall intent of the PIPP is to foster innovation and explore the full range of opportunities to make the project delivery process more efficient. Any proposals that meet this intent and are consistent with the criteria noted above will be given strong consideration.

Answer:

A local government authority includes:

  • a political subdivision of a state,
  • an authority of at least one state or political subdivision of a state,
  • an Indian tribe, or
  • a public corporation, board, or commission established under the laws of a state.
Answer:

By law, FTA evaluates and rates Capital Investment Grants Program New Starts or Core Capacity projects prior to allowing them into the Engineering phase. FTA evaluates and develops ratings for the project justification and local financial commitment criteria.

FTA also reviews the project sponsor’s Project Management Plan and subplans to ensure that the sponsor has the technical capacity and capability to deliverthe project.  Lastly, FTA reviews the project definition, scope, cost and schedule for reasonableness, undertakes and completes a risk assessment. These reviews may be expedited based on factors including the complexity of the project and the project sponsor’s management capacity and capability.

Answer:

Under MAP-21, FTA apportions 60 percent of the funds to large urbanized areas, 20 percent to States for areas under 200,000 in population (small urbanized areas) and 20 percent to States for areas under 50,000 in population. For small urbanized areas, the funds will be apportioned to the States, who are responsible for the grant and for any further suballocation of funds to the small urbanized areas. For the large urbanized areas, FTA apportions the funds to designated recipients, who are responsible for any further suballocation within the large urbanized area. A State may transfer funds apportioned to the State’s small or rural area for a project serving an area other than that small or rural area if the Governor of the State certifies that all the objectives of the section are being met in the particular small or rural area. Small and rural area apportionment may be transferred for a project anywhere in the State, if the State has established a statewide program. However, there is no provision to transfer funds from the large urbanized areas to either the small or rural areas of a State.

Answer:

This will vary depending on the complexity of the waiver or modification request and the project. FTA will strive to respond to complete applications within 60 days. If FTA determines an application is incomplete or if FTA has questions, FTA will not wait 60 days to respond, but will notify the applicant as soon as it makes that determination.

Answer:

The appropriate documentation may vary depending on the source of local match. Examples could include a city council or board resolution to provide local match for the project or a letter from the state attesting to the availability of state funding for the project.

Answer:

FTA plans to conduct a risk assessment of New Starts and Core Capacity projects prior to entry into the Engineeringphase of its Capital Investment Grants program.  FTA may perform updates to the risk assessment and scope, cost, and schedule reviews prior to awarding a construction grant agreement.  

For Small Start projects, scope, cost and schedule reviews and a risk assessment may be conducted during the Project Development phase.  

Answer:

No. Operating expenses are not eligible under this program and cannot be counted toward the total project cost in determining the local cost share. Eligible sources of local match include the following:

  • cash from non-government sources of that revenues from providing public transportation services;
  • revenues derived from the sale of advertising and concessions;
  • amounts received under a service agreement with a state or local social service agency or private social service organization;
  • revenues generated from value capture financing mechanisms; or
  • funds from an undistributed cash surplus; replacement or depreciation cash fund or reserve; new capital; or allowable in-kind contributions.
Answer:

Yes. However, unobligated Section 5310 funds under SAFETEA-LU must be spent in accordance with the program requirements as authorized under SAFETEA-LU. The Program of Projects (POP) must identify which projects are being funded by SAFETEA-LU and which ones are funded by MAP-21.

Answer:

Readiness will vary depending on the elements of the project development process that are being modified or changed. Generally, a PIPP request for a waiver or modification will be submitted prior to the start of a project, but there may be circumstances later on in the process where funding mechanisms change or some other fundamental issue leads to requesting a waiver or modification under the PIPP.

Answer:

FTA has continued to refine the technical methods and adjust the probability thresholds it uses to undertake the risk assessment based on historic data from previous projects. When determining the reasonableness of a project sponsor’s cost and schedule, FTA reviews the estimates to determine whether they include reasonable assumptions or whether adjustments need to be made. FTA then examines risks related to the project to determine the appropriate level of contingency needed. FTA will use a 65% probability threshold to determine reasonableness of the cost and schedule estimates.  

Answer:

No.  Discounts on costs charged are not considered in-kind contributions and cannot be counted towards local match.  Discounts reduce the total project cost, which is used to calculate the federal and local shares.

Answer:

Yes. Acquisition of public transportation services is still an eligible capital expense under this section.

Answer:

As with a waiver or modification request, an applicant may submit a preliminary application to pipp.fta@dot.gov and the appropriate FTA Regional Administrator.  An application is a short narrative that articulates the basic elements of the applicant's proposed use of PIPP and provides the basis for FTA to offer the applicant a preliminary assessment of the viability of potential experimental features. As the program matures and PIPP waivers or modifications are approved, FTA will also share with the applicant information about lessons learned from previous PIPP projects that may be relevant to the proposed project.

Answer:

There is no minimum or maximum grant award amount; however, FTA intends to fund as many meritorious projects as possible.

Answer:

Even if funds have been appropriated or allocated to a New Starts, Small Starts, or Core Capacity project, FTA will not award a construction grant until the following conditions are met and FTA is assured the project is ready:

  • The project’s development and design have progressed to the point where its scope, cost, schedule, benefits, and impacts are considered firm and final;
  • All non-CIG capital funding for the project is committed;
  • All significant third party agreements are completed;
  • The project continues to obtain at least a Medium overall rating under the statutory evaluation criteria; and
  • The Project Management Plan and subplans have been updated to include a management approach at a sufficient level of development to construct and implement the project.
Answer:

Yes. VW settlement funds can be used for local match. However, applicants must provide documentation that the funds have been reserved and can be used for the project.

Answer:

One request for a waiver or modification per phase of a project may be submitted, and a submission may include requests for waivers or modifications of more than one FTA requirement. Allowing a request for a waiver or modification for each phase of a project means a recipient may, for example, submit a request during the project development phase, a second request during the engineering phase, and a third request during construction.

FTA encourages applicants to include all requests for waiver or modification in one submission to streamline the waiver/modification request process.

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