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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer: Long range plans and public participation plans, should clearly demonstrate how the needs and concerns of the EJ community are incorporated into the planning process and its products from visioning to project development and operations. Agencies should use public involvement to clearly demonstrate that they understand the needs of the community and reflect those needs and concerns throughout the planning process. Planning agencies should engage the public and enhance their analytical capabilities to identify current and projected transportation patterns of low-income and minority populations and ensure that they address any concerns related to the public transportation requirements for such communities.
Answer: The premise is straightforward: Every public transportation agency that assumes responsibility for the safe transit of passengers and the safety of its workers should have a system in place that allows its executives to identify risks and act upon them. For a small bus operator, that safety management system is going to be simple and straight-forward. For a large transit agency with thousands of employees and multiple modes, that system is going to be more complicated. SMS naturally scales itself to reflect the size and complexity of the operation, but the fundamental accountability remains the same. SMS is flexible in implementation and enables transit operators to determine their own unique safety risks and target their resources on those risks.
Answer: Match can be calculated by using the Federal Share (award) divided by the percentage of Total Project Cost minus Federal Share. A sample is as follows: With a match of 20%, and Federal share of 80%, a $250,000 Federal grant: $250,000 divided by 80% = $312,500 $312,500 minus $250,000 = $62,500 The 20% local share is $62,500.
Answer: States were required to submit information for FTA’s certification process completed in October 2013. If a State was not certified based upon the information submitted, the CWP is the next step States must take to identify the necessary action(s) to fill these gaps and build a MAP-21-compliant SSO program. The recommendations provided in the October 2013 gap assessment should be incorporated into the CWP.
Answer: FTA updates the tracking table once a month during the first week of the month. Given the current and expected volume of corrective actions to be tracked, updating monthly is most feasible. There are currently 91 corrective actions posted, an additional 217 will be added in spring 2016 and more are expected as FTA continues its temporary and direct safety oversight activities of WMATA Metrorail.
Answer: Disability alone does not determine paratransit eligibility; the decision is based on the applicant’s functional ability to use the fixed route bus and is not a medical decision. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in Appendix D to 49 C.F.R. Section 37.125 explain: “The substantive eligibility process is not aimed at making a medical or diagnostic determination. While evaluation by a physician (or professionals in rehabilitation or other relevant fields) may be used as part of the process, a diagnosis of a disability is not dispositive. What is needed is a determination of whether, as a practical matter, the individual can use fixed route transit in his or her own circumstances.” Transit agencies, with input from the communities they serve, devise the specifics of their individual eligibility processes. The DOT ADA regulations in Section 37.125 set only broad requirements that all agencies must incorporate, such as written notification of eligibility decisions and an opportunity for an appeal. This regulation may be accessed here.
Answer: For the last three decades the public transportation industry has implemented plans and programs based on the system safety principles outlined in the Military Standard 882 series (Standard Practice for System Safety, http://www.system-safety.org/Documents/MIL-STD-882E.pdf). This approach focuses on the application of engineering and management principles, criteria, and techniques to achieve an acceptable level of safety throughout all phases of a system lifecycle. The SMS approach builds on the transit industry’s experience with system safety by bringing management processes and organizational culture more squarely into the system safety engineering and hazard management framework. By tackling these "softer" management and human factors issues, SMS supplements system safety’s more rigorous engineering processes. System safety provides a strong foundation for understanding and implementing SMS. The main difference between the traditional system safety approach currently implemented in FTA’s safety programs and SMS is that, because of its engineering roots, system safety focuses mostly on the safety implications of technical aspects and components of the system under consideration, somewhat at the expense of the human component. Most safety research has shown that major accidents are not simply the result of one individual’s behavior or actions. Major accidents typically have organizational antecedents with multiple causes involving people operating across many levels or functions in an organization. It follows that predicting and preventing major accidents requires addressing the root causes based in organizational practices, management systems, and culture. SMS addresses management concepts such as “organizational drift” into complacency and error-acceptance, the role of latent and precursor conditions in causing accidents, and the idea that organizations are dynamic creations that must be constantly monitored for cultural change and its impact on work performance.
Answer: Project sponsors and other joint development participants determine the amount of revenue expected to be generated by the project and negotiate the share of that revenue the project sponsor will receive, taking into consideration the type of project and priorities that the project sponsor and/or local government and stakeholders want to advance. FTA has determined that the minimum threshold for a “fair share of revenue” a project sponsor receives cumulatively from joint development must be at least the amount of the original FTA investment in the joint development project. The revenue can be received in one lump sum or disbursed in multiple payments at a frequency or timing negotiated by the project sponsor. Example: A transit agency bought property for $2 million in 1990 and FTA’s share of the land acquisition cost was 50%. Therefore, the original FTA investment was $1 million and the minimum threshold for a fair share of revenue for a joint development on the property today is $1 million. This means the transit agency must receive at least $1 million cumulatively over the life of the joint development agreement.
Answer: FTA proposes that participants of the interim safety certification training program have three years to complete the training requirements.
Answer: Our policy is to approve all COMPLETE application within 60 days from the time the application was submitted to FTA.  Application is not considered complete if STIP, environmental or legal issues still remain despite having all the fields in TEAM complete.
Answer: FTA appreciates that CWP approval is on the critical path to receiving grant funding. We will work with each State to turn around their submittals as quickly as possible. To expedite this process, it is important that States carefully review the CWP template to ensure that all relevant information is provided. Time spent following up with a State for additional information will extend the review and approval time for that State.
Answer: SSO Formula Grant Program funds are available for the year of apportionment plus two additional years. Any FY 2013 funds that remain unobligated at the close of business on September 30, 2015 will revert to FTA for reapportionment under the SSO Formula Grant Program. Any FY 2014 funds that remain unobligated at the close of business on September 30, 2016 will revert to FTA for reapportionment under the SSO Formula Grant Program.
Answer: Applicants should submit one HMCE analysis for each proposed funding amount, including the total funding request and any reduced alternatives.
Answer: For fiscal year (FY) 2013, more than $21 million is available for States to develop or carry out their SSO Programs consistent with MAP-21 requirements. For fiscal year (FY) 2014, $22,293,250 is available for States to develop or carry out their SSO Programs consistent with MAP-21 requirements. Please see Table 13 on the list of Current Apportionments on the FTA Current Apportionments for the amount apportioned to each State.
Answer: Recipients of sections 5307 or 5311 funds may use up to 0.5 percent of those funds to cover up to 80 percent of the cost of participation by an employee who has direct safety oversight responsibility for the public transportation system. Likewise, participation by SSOA personnel with direct safety oversight responsibilities will be an eligible expense for section 5329(e)(6)(A) funds.
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 38.23(b)(1), wheelchair lifts must accommodate a design load of at least 600 lbs., with a safety factor of at least six (3,600 lbs.) for working parts, such as belts, pulleys, and shafts that can be expected to wear, and a safety factor of at least three (1,800 lbs.) for nonworking parts, based on the ultimate strength of the material. For vehicles equipped with ramps, the design load must be at least 600 lbs. for ramps in excess of 30 inches in length, with a safety factor of at least three (1,800 lbs.); ramps less than 30 inches in length are required to have a design load of at least 300 lbs. Transit agencies are not prevented from acquiring vehicles and equipment with a higher design load but are not required to accommodate mobility devices that exceed the capacities of their lifts or ramps.
Answer: The status table is updated quarterly. The date of the last update is posted on the table.
Answer: Public transportation remains one of the safest ways to travel in the United States. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports that, in a typical year, a transit passenger is 40 to 70 times less likely to be killed or injured when riding public transportation than driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
Answer: Under Department of Transportation (DOT) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations at 49 C.F.R. Section 37.163(f), if a lift fails in service and the headway to the next accessible vehicle on the route is more than 30 minutes, the transit provider is required to provide alternative accessible service by a paratransit or other special vehicle within a short response time (i.e., less than 30 minutes). Transit entities may provide this accommodation by having a “shadow” accessible service available along the route (i.e., by having an accessible vehicle “follow” the vehicle with the inoperative lift) or by having the bus driver immediately call in upon encountering a passenger he or she is unable to transport.
Answer: The HMCE analysis for this type of proposal would show its benefits entirely in the value of passenger time. The analysis should describe the number of passengers who would have shortened trips, or who would be able to get to work when their other travel mode is out of service. Note that this type of project could have a positive cost effectiveness ratio even if it does not reduce any direct damages, provided that the social benefits of the project are large relative to the project cost. FTA will carefully evaluate the methodology used to estimate social benefits in cases where the affected infrastructure is owned or operated by a separate entity. As in other parts of the HMCE analysis, information from previous disasters would be valuable in documenting the impact on passengers.

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