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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer:

For areas under 200,000 in population, the governor designates a State agency responsible for administering the funds and notifies the FTA Regional Office in writing of that designation. Unless there is a change in State agency, FTA will assume the existing designated recipient for the section 5310 program (under SAFETEA-LU) will continue to administer the program for the areas under 200,000.

In areas over 200,000, a designated recipient will need to be identified. FTA will need to receive designated recipient information before a grant can be awarded. These letters should be submitted to the FTA Regional office. Designated recipients in the large urbanized areas may be the section 5307 designated recipients, other direct recipients of 5307 funds, metropolitan planning organizations, or the section 5317 New Freedom Program. Areas may also elect to designate the State DOT as the designated recipient in a large urbanized area. Designations must be made in accordance with the planning process under 49 U.S.C. 5303, 5304, and 5306, by the Governor of a State, responsible local officials, and publicly owned operators of public transportation. Designated Recipients for large urbanized areas will be responsible for receiving and apportioning amounts under the Section 5310 program to urbanized areas of 200,000 or more in population. This includes applying for and managing the grant and overseeing subrecipients in these areas.

Answer:

The eligible subrecipients for “traditional” 5310 projects are the same as those permitted under Section 5310 as authorized under prior legislation. Specifically, eligible subrecipients are: 1) A private nonprofit organization; OR 2) a state or local governmental authority that is approved by a state to coordinate services for seniors and individuals with disabilities or certifies that there are no nonprofit organizations readily available in the area to provide the service.

The intent of the 55 percent requirement and the specific subrecipients eligible to administer capital projects designed to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable, or inappropriate, is to preserve the “status quo” of the program as authorized under prior legislation.

However, given the blending of the New Freedom program and eligibility under MAP-21, the eligible subrecipients for all “Other” eligible Section 5310 activities include a state or local governmental authority, a private nonprofit organization, or an operator of public transportation that receives a Section 5310 grant indirectly through a recipient. There is no required certification or designation required for state or local governmental authorities to administer these other types of eligible projects.

Answer:

Yes. In a large urbanized area (area over 200,000), the designated recipient for the Section 5307 program can be the designated recipient for the Section 5310 program in the large urbanized area. A designation letter is still required before a 5310 grant can be awarded. The state is the only eligible designated recipient (and grant applicant) for rural and small urbanized areas (areas under 200,000 in population).

Answer:

No. Under previous Section 5310 program, States could transfer funds to an apportionment under Section 5307 or 5311(c). This transfer provision is no longer permitted by law.

Answer:

No. Recipients in areas under 200,000 should contact the State agency responsible for administering the 5310 program. Recipients in this area are eligible as subrecipients for the State for 5310 program funds. Unlike the 5307 program, by law, FTA is not permitted to award grants under this program directly to agencies in areas under 200,000. The only eligible direct recipient for these areas under this program is the State agency.

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:

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:

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:

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

Answer:

Acquisition of service occurs in the course of a procurement action resulting in a contract. Generally speaking, a contractor provides service at the request and direction of the designated recipient or subrecipient. The designated recipient or subrecipient establishes the requirements of the service to be performed, such as days, hours, routes, geographic coverage, etc. There is a difference between this contractual relationship and that of a traditional subrecipient relationship. A traditional subrecipient relationship exist when the designated recipient selects an organization such as a nonprofit to provide a service, but the nonprofit determines the characteristics of the service to be provided.

Answer:

No. However, FTA will include the eligibility of rolling stock for and acquisition of ADA complementary service as Traditional Section 5310 Projects when carried out by eligible subrecipients (or recipient) that can count toward the minimum 55 percent required, so long as the projects are planned, designed and carried out to meet the specific needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable or inappropriate, and the projects are included in the area’s coordination plan. For further information please see the 5310 Circular FTA C9070.G Chapter III pages 11-15.

Answer:

No, under MAP-21, given the blending of the two programs, eligible activities for this program include projects that were funded under both the SAFETEA-LU section 5310 and section 5317 programs. In addition to the blending , one new type of eligible project was included under MAP-21. See (B) below.

Specifically, section 5310 now authorizes grants for: (A) public transportation projects planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, inappropriate, or unavailable; (B) public transportation projects that improve access to fixed route service and decrease reliance by individuals with disabilities on complementary paratransit; (C) public transportation projects that exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Action of 1990; and (D) alternatives to public transportation that assist seniors and individuals with disabilities with transportation.

Answer:

No. There is no requirement for projects that go beyond the requirements of the ADA to be new.

Answer:

Yes. MAP-21 requires that at least 55 percent of the grantee’s section 5310 apportionment be used for traditional 5310 projects: capital public transportation projects planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, inappropriate, or unavailable. Thus, the most that could be spent on operating assistance is 45 percent, but this is a maximum and not a minimum. Note: Acquisition of public transportation service is considered a capital expense under the program.

Answer:

Yes. Mobility management is defined as an eligible capital expense under Section 5302, Definitions. Section 5310 will continue to list Mobility Management and coordination programs among public transportation providers and other human service agencies providing mobility management as an eligible capital expense.

Answer:

In order for a Mobility Management project to be an eligible “traditional” 5310 project and be considered for the 55 percent threshold, it must be : 1) be a project planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable, or inappropriate; 2) carried out by and eligible subrecipient and; 3) included in a locally developed coordinated transit human-services transportation plan.

Answer:

The Section 5310 program circular treats travel training as a component of mobility management, which is considered a capital expense and is eligible for up to 80 percent Federal match.

Answer:

Before receiving a grant the designated recipient must certify that: 1) the projects selected by the recipient are included in a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan; 2) the plan was developed and approved through a process that included participation by seniors, individuals with disabilities, representatives of public, private, and nonprofit transportation and human services providers and other members of the pubic; and 3) to the maximum extent feasible, the services funded will be coordinated with transportation services assisted by other Federal departments and agencies, including any transportation activities carried out by a recipient of a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. Please also review in detail FTA C 9070.1G page V-1 through V-4.

Answer:

Yes. Projects selected for Section 5310 funding must be included in a coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan (“coordinated plan”). This was a requirement under SAFETEA-LU and is still a requirement under MAP-21.

Answer:

FTA maintains flexibility in how projects appear in the coordinated plan. For example, for the purposes of the coordinated plan, a project is a strategy, activity or specific action addressing an identified service gap or transportation coordination objective articulated and prioritized within the plan. For example, a coordinated plan may identify a service gap, such as the absence of accessible transportation service after 10:00 p.m., when the transit system’s fixed route service ends. Examples of strategies to address this service gap may be non-specific, such as adding late-night service options; or may be more specific, such as contracting for accessible taxi service or extending ADA complementary paratransit hours past the fixed route service end time. The level of specificity in the coordinated plan is a local decision.

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