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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer:

No. The only required reports are Federal Financial and Milestone Reports. These reports are submitted electronically using FTA’s electronic grants management system. FTA encourages recipients to continually evaluate performance of electric vehicles and to share information on their operation and performance within the transit industry.

Answer:

Although there isn’t a page limit for supporting documentation, applicants should only include information that specifically supports the statements made in the narrative.  Applicants may include just the pertinent excerpts from a larger document.  For example, an applicant may attach a document that includes only the cover page and the pages referenced in the narrative. File sizes cannot be larger than 3 MB.

Answer:

FTA will apply the same oversight and grant management/administration requirements that apply to recovery and local priority resilience projects, once awarded. Resilience projects must comply with all Federal planning requirements, including the TIP/STIP requirement; however, they will not require prior FTA approval or to be submitted as part of a program of recovery projects, as required for Hurricane Sandy recovery and local priority resilience work. As projects were evaluated and selected based on the submitted application, projects should be delivered in accordance with the schedule and scope identified in the application.

Answer:

As the specific purpose of a resiliency project is to add protective features to existing infrastructure to minimize damage from future emergencies or major disasters, a resiliency project typically includes a “substantial functional, location or capacity change." As such, FTA expects project sponsors to ensure such resiliency projects are included or appropriately referenced in the MPO’s metropolitan transportation plan as well as the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs. Please reference FHWA and FTA’s joint planning rule (23 CFR 450.324) for TIP/STIP requirements. Project sponsors are also reminded they must comply with other applicable pre-award requirements (unless specifically waived), before incurring costs for these projects.While 23 CFR 450.324 contains an exception for "emergency relief projects" that do not involve substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes be included in the TIP/STIP, FTA does not expect resiliency projects, particularly those funded from the local priority resiliency allocations and future competitive resiliency allocations, to qualify for the reason noted above and given most are not "emergency" in nature.However, there may be some integrated resiliency elements or projects specifically tied to a recovery project and funded from a grantee's recovery allocation that do not include "substantial functional, location, or capacity changes". Project sponsors should review the additional planning FAQs for more information about this exception and the process for certifying if a project qualifies. What appropriate funding assumptions can be made to include projects funded under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program (ERP) in a TIP/STIP? Per FHWA/FTA’s joint planning rule, a project must be fully funded from “reasonably anticipated” fund sources to be included in the TIP/STIP. To meet the requirement of anticipated full funding, sponsors of ERP projects must identify all the funding sources for the ERP project including the federal funds that FTA has allocated from the ERP to individual project, any required non-federal match plus any other funds required to meet the total cost of the project. Project sponsors should not assume the availability of ERP funds for a specific project if Congress has not appropriated those funds to the ERP, or if FTA has not specifically allocated ERP funds to the specific project. Projects that have been allocated ERP funds from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act by the Notice of Availability published May 29, 2013 can assume the ERP funds to be “reasonably available” to the project so that the project can be included in the TIP/STIP.However, project sponsors cannot assume that any future funds that have not yet been allocated, particularly those that may be awarded on a competitive basis, are “ reasonably anticipated to be available” until FTA makes an allocation to a project. Once FTA makes an allocation, the project sponsor should work with the MPO and/or State to amend the TIP/STIP to include the ERP project, identifying all federal and other funds required to meet the full cost of the project. Project sponsors are urged to work closely with the MPO and States early to understand and plan for any TIP/STIP amendment procedures for project inclusion once FTA has allocated ERP funds.

Answer:

FTA’s EJ circular defines low-income population as “any readily identifiable group of low-income persons who live in geographic proximity, and, if circumstances warrant, geographically dispersed or transient persons who will be similarly affected by a proposed DOT program, policy, or activity.” Environmental Justice considerations apply to transient populations (homeless, migrant workers legally working in the U.S., etc.), or dispersed populations (Native Americans). The transitory nature of a transient population makes it more difficult to collect and access reliable data about their presence and movement. In order to consider transient populations, who may also have limited English proficiency, be sure to consult a variety of resources such as planning offices, NGO service providers like churches, homeless shelters, medical clinics, and food banks, as well as local job centers and school districts. HUD also maintains a Homelessness Data Exchange.

Answer:

Yes, however each state administers its own HMGP funds and determines how those funds are spent, in accordance with FEMA requirements.

Answer:

No. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(d), transit entities are only required to allow service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities in vehicles and facilities. DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.3 define a service animal as an animal “individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.” If an animal’s only function is to provide emotional support or comfort for the rider, that animal would not fall under the regulatory training-based definition of a service animal. Simply providing comfort is something that animal does passively, by its nature or through the perception of the owner. However, the ADA does not prohibit a transit agency from choosing to accommodate pets and comfort animals, which would be a local decision.

Answer:

Yes, under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.167(f), a transportation entity must make communications and information available, using accessible formats and technology (e.g., Braille, large print, TDDs) to obtain information about transportation services. Someone cannot adequately use the bus system if schedule and route information is not available in a form he or she can use. A lack of adequate information in accessible formats for fixed route service may lead to an over-reliance on paratransit service, and a lack of adequate accessible information on paratransit services could constitute a prohibited capacity constraint.

Answer:

Under 49 U.S.C. Section 5307(d)(1)(D) of the Federal Transit Act, federally subsidized transit providers may not charge more than half of the peak fare for fixed route transit during off-peak hours for seniors, people with disabilities, and Medicare cardholders. This is not an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement. Rather, this is a general condition placed upon those receiving federal funding for transit from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The discount does not apply for purposes of determining the fare for ADA complementary paratransit, which, under 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(c), would be calculated without regard to discounts such as this. To learn more about this program, please visit the following link. Further questions may be answered by submitting a question online at http://ftawebprod.fta.dot.gov/ContactUsTool/Public/NewRequest.aspx.

Answer:

Yes. Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.131(b), paratransit reservation service must be available during at least all normal business hours of the entity’s administrative offices, as well as during times, comparable to normal business hours, on a day when the entity's offices are not open before a service day (e.g., on a Sunday).

Answer:

When made available for transportation purposes, CDBG funds may be used as the local match for FTA ER funds. HUD has received a supplemental appropriation of CDBG Disaster Relief funds and has awarded those funds to Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the US Virgin Islands. Restoration of infrastructure is an eligible use of such funds. For more information on HUD’s awards, please see HUD’s notice of allocation here. For information on the availability of CDBG funds, please contact the recipients of the CDBG funds, listed here.

Answer:

Yes.  The spare ratio policy applies to all buses in an agency’s fleet.  However, FTA will permit agencies to include vehicles that have met their minimum useful life in their contingency fleet if the agency is introducing zero-emission vehicles into its fleet.  Contingency fleet vehicles are not included in the calculation of spare ratio.

Answer:

No. The DOT ADA regulations cover transportation provided by both public and private entities, whether or not they are primarily engaged in the provision of transportation service.
For example, if a hotel wants to provide shuttle service to its guests along a fixed route serving local attractions, because hotels are not primarily engaged in transportation, the vehicles used may not need to be accessible as long as equivalent service is provided for persons with disabilities, including wheelchair users.

Answer:

For rail transit agencies, General Directive 17-1 would require to:

  • Complete a safety risk evaluation of the potential consequences of hazards related to stop signal overruns within 90 days of the issuance of a final General Directive 17-1;
  • Evaluate the current safety performance monitoring activities in place to assess the effectiveness of stop signal overrun mitigations within 90 days of the issuance of a final General Directive 17-1; and
  • Develop and submit a corrective action plan, as necessary to its State Safety Oversight Agency within 150 days of the issuance of a final General Directive 17-1.

For State Safety Oversight Agencies, General Directive 17-1 would require:

  • Participating in the safety risk evaluation conducted by the rail transit agency;
  • Reviewing and approving the evaluation within 60 days after its completion;
  • Reviewing and approving any needed corrective action plan within 60 days of its receipt; and
  • Reporting the status of the corrective action plan to FTA, as part of the SSO Program Annual Report to FTA (per 49 CFR 674.39).
Answer:

To begin with, it is important to understand the difference between the concepts of “art” and “design.” FTA expects all transit projects to be designed and built by professional architects, engineers, planners, interior and landscape design professionals, and those in other professional trades.  The building and surrounding landscape designs should incorporate aesthetic considerations, including but not limited to decisions regarding the use of light, shape, color, materials, the use of space, and the historic setting to achieve a functional and welcoming public transit facility.  In fact, the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines “design” in this context as “the arrangement of elements or details in a product[…]” and as “the creative art of executing aesthetic or functional designs.”
Based on this definition, FTA does not interpret the law to exclude or prohibit the functional and aesthetic design of transit stations or related facilities, including designs intended to minimize adverse visual effects on the surrounding community as identified in the environmental review process.  For this reason, FTA will not require grantees to assess the often indeterminate incremental costs associated with functional design elements, including, but not limited to, the use of different types or colors of paint or tile, wayfinding elements intended to direct passengers or staff, or different or alternate construction materials in the design of a transit facility.
In contrast to design, FTA interprets the term “art” in this context as primarily aesthetic objects that do not have a meaningfully functional structural or transit-related purpose. “Art,” within the meaning of the statute, would include, for example, most decorative murals, sculptures, statues, musical installations, or similar objects or elements included for primarily aesthetic purposes.  Accordingly, in the case of primarily aesthetic elements or objects, FTA considers any costs directly associated with or attributable to creating, producing, or installing such elements or objects to be ineligible for FTA grant funding.

Answer:

Pre-construction activities (i.e. planning, NEPA review, preliminary engineering and design) are not required to be on the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs to be eligible for potential reimbursement under pre-award authority. FTA considers these activities necessary to estimate the cost of a project for inclusion in the TIP and STIP.
All other project activities must be in the TIP and STIP prior to incurring costs.
FTA will determine the eligibility for reimbursement of pre-award activities once a grant is in development and the project has been included in the TIP and STIP.

Answer:

Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.121(a), “each public entity operating a fixed route system shall provide paratransit or other special service to individuals with disabilities that is comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without disabilities who use the fixed route system.” Paratransit service is by nature a shared-ride service. The standard of service is not intended to reflect that of a taxi service, which typically transports passengers directly to their destination. A paratransit trip should be comparable in length to an identical trip on the fixed route system, including the time necessary to travel to the bus stop, wait for the bus, actual riding time, transfers, and travel from the final stop to the person’s ultimate destination.

Answer:

Yes, in the case of projects with scalable options or multiple independent sub-projects, it is permissible for an applicant to reallocate the funds associated with one or more specific sub-projects.  The remaining resilience funded sub-projects must have independent resilience utility, and may be identified based on their location or the specific proposed activity. Recipients are encouraged to identify why the particular sub-project has been chosen for reallocation, for example, if it has a lower benefit-cost balance than the remaining projects.

Answer:

Yes, it is permissible for a recipient to request the reallocation of a portion of a project’s proposed scope, provided that the remaining scope results in a viable project with an independent resilience benefit. In this case, the recipient should submit a revised project budget breakdown reflecting the reduced scope. 

Answer:

Eligible applicants include designated recipients, states, local governmental authorities, and Indian tribes. Eligible subrecipients may partner with eligible recipients but cannot be the primary applicant.

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