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About the Program

Overview

Discretionary & Competitive Federal Grant Program

  • Roughly $2.3 billion appropriated each year
  • Funds light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit projects

FAST outlines: –Multi-year, multi-step process projects must follow to receive funds

  • Points during process when FTA must evaluate and rate projects
  • Evaluation criteria that must be used
  • 5 point scale from low to high for ratings
  • Annual Report to Congress that must include ratings for each project and the Administration’s funding recommendations

FAST Eligible Projects

New Starts

  • Total project cost is equal to or greater than $300 million or total New Starts funding sought equals or exceeds $100 million
  • New fixed guideway system (light rail, commuter rail etc.)
  • Extension to existing system
  • Fixed guideway BRT system

Small Starts

  • Total project cost is less than $300 million and total Small Starts funding sought is less than $100 million
  • New fixed guideway systems (light rail, commuter rail etc.)
  • Extension to existing system
  • Fixed guideway BRT system
  • Corridor-based BRT system

Core Capacity

  • Substantial corridor-based investment in existing fixed guideway system
  • Project must:
    • Be located in  a corridor that is at or over capacity or will be in five years
    • Increase capacity by 10%
    • "not include project elements designated to maintain a state of good repair"
  • Learn more about the program in this video, which provides an overview of everything there is to know about the Core Capacity Improvement Program. The 49-minute presentation provides an in-depth training on project eligibility, completing steps in the process, and project evaluation and rating. It synthesizes the requirements in law, regulation, policy guidance and FTA’s application procedures in an easy-to-understand format. Closed-captioned.

Program of Interrelated Projects

  • Program of interrelated projects is  the simultaneous development of-
  • (A) 2 or more new fixed guideway capital projects, small start projects, or core capacity improvement projects; or
  • (B) 2 or more projects that are any combination of new fixed guideway capital projects, small start projects, and core capacity improvement projects.

Bus Rapid Transit Categories 

Corridor-Based

  • Separated right-of-way not required for entirety of corridor
  • Makes a substantial investment in a specific corridor
  • Defined stations
  • Traffic signal priority for buses
  • Short headway times
  • Bidirectional services for a substantial part of weekdays

Fixed Guideway

  • Majority of project operates in a separated right-of-way dedicated for public transportation use
  • Makes a substantial investment in a single route within a defined corridor
  • Defined stations
  • Traffic signal priority for buses
  • Short headway times
  • Bidirectional services for a substantial part of weekdays & weekend days

Approval Process

New Starts

1) FTA approval: Project Development

  • Complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into the fiscally constrained long range transportation plan

2) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Engineering

  • Gain commitments of all non-5309 funding
  • Complete sufficient engineering and design

3) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Full Funding Grant Agreement

  • Construction

Small Starts

1) FTA Approval: Project Development

  • Complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into fiscally constrained long range transportation plan
  • Gain commitments of all non-5309 funding
  • Complete sufficient engineering and design

2) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Construction Grant Agreement

  • Construction

Core Capacity

1) FTA Approval: Project Development

  • Complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into the fiscally constrained long range transportation plan

2) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Engineering

  • Gain commitments of all non-5309 funding
  • Complete sufficient engineering and design

3) FTA evaluation, rating, and approval: Full Funding Grant Agreement

  • Construction

FAST Evaluation and Rating Criteria

New Starts

Project Justification:

  • mobility
  • environmental benefits
  • congestion relief
  • economic development
  • land use
  • cost effectiveness (cost per trip)

Local financial commitment:

  • acceptable degree of local financial commitment including evidence of stable and dependable financing sources

Small Starts

Project Justification:

  • mobility
  • environmental benefits
  • congestion relief
  • economic development
  • land use
  • cost effectiveness (cost per trip)

Local financial commitment:

  • acceptable degree of local financial commitment including evidence of stable and dependable financing sources

Core Capacity

Project Justification:

  • mobility
  • environmental benefits
  • congestion relief
  • economic development
  • capacity needs of the corridor
  • cost effectiveness (cost per trip)

Local financial commitment:

  • acceptable degree of local financial commitment including evidence of stable and dependable financing sources

Funding Recommendations

FTA’s decision to recommend a project for funding in the President’s Budget is driven by a number of factors, including:

  • the “readiness” of the project for capital funding
  • the project’s overall rating
  • geographic equity
  • the amount of available funds versus the number and size of the projects in the pipeline

Receipt of Construction Funding

  • To receive a construction grant agreement a project must:
  • Complete the Planning, Project Development, and Environmental Review Processes
  • Meet Project Readiness Requirements (technical capacity, firm and final cost estimate, all funding committed)
  • Receive a “medium” or higher overall rating
  • Meet all other federal requirements
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2017
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