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Formula Grants for Other than Urbanized Areas (5311)

Program Overview

The Formula Grants For Other than Urbanized Areas is a rural program that is formula based and provides funding to states for the purpose of supporting public transportation in rural areas, with population of less than 50,000.  The goal of the program is to provide the following services to communities with population less than 50,000:

  • Enhance the access of people in nonurbanized areas to health care, shopping, education, employment, public services, and recreation.
  • Assist in the maintenance, development, improvement, and use of public transportation systems in nonurbanized areas.
  • Encourage and facilitate the most efficient use of all transportation funds used to provide passenger transportation in nonurbanized areas through the coordination of programs and services.
  • Assist in the development and support of intercity bus transportation.
  • Provide for the participation of private transportation providers in nonurbanized transportation.

The Rural Transit Assistance Program and the Tribal Transit Program are funded as a takedown from the Section 5311 program. 

Eligible Recipients

Section 3013 (s) of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), amend eligible recipients to include a State or Indian tribe that receives a Federal transit program grant directly from the Federal Government.  A subrecipient of the program includes a State or local governmental authority, a nonprofit organization, or an operator of public transportation or intercity bus service that receives federal transit program grant funds indirectly through a recipient.

Eligible Activities

An eligible recipient may use the funding for capital, operating, and administrative expenses for public transportation projects that meet the needs of rural communities. Examples of eligible activities include: capital projects; operating costs of equipment and facilities for use in public transportation; and the acquisition of public transportation services, including service agreements with private providers of public transportation services.  

The state must use 15 percent of its annual apportionment to support intercity bus service, unless the Governor certifies, after consultation with affected intercity bus providers that the needs of the state are adequately met.

Statutory Reference

49 U.SC. 5311

Funding Availability

Funds are available the year appropriated plus two years (total of three years).

Allocation of Funding

FTA apportions Section 5311 funds to the States by a statutory formula using the latest available U.S. decennial census data.  Eighty percent of the statutory formula is based on the nonurbanized population of the States.  Twenty percent of the formula is based on land area.  No State may receive more than 5 percent of the amount apportioned for land area.  In addition, FTA adds amounts apportioned based on nonurbanized population according to the growing States formula factors of 49 U.S.C. 5340 to the amounts apportioned to the States under the Section 5311 program.


The Federal share of eligible capital and project administrative expenses may not exceed 80 percent of the net cost of the project.  For operating, the Federal share may  not exceed 50 percent of the net operating cost of the project.  For projects that meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Clean Air Act, or bicycle access projects, they may be funded at 90 percent Federal match.

Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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