The Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program was established to address the challenge of increasing vehicle congestion in and around our national parks and other federal lands. America’s national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests were created to protect unique environmental and cultural treasures, but are now facing traffic, pollution and crowding that diminishes the visitor experience and threatens the environment. To address these concerns, this program provides funding for alternative transportation systems, such as shuttle buses, rail connections and even bicycle trails. The program seeks to conserve natural, historical, and cultural resources; reduce congestion and pollution; improve visitor mobility and accessibility; enhance visitor experience; and ensure access to all, including persons with disabilities. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, together with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.
The Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program (Transit in Parks) was originally authorized under SAFETEA-LU, and has provided grants for alternative transportation in America’s national parks and federal lands since 2006. The Transit in Parks Program was repealed by Congress under MAP-21, and FTA announced the final selection of competitive project awards on February 18, 2013. Alternative transportation projects formerly eligible under Transit in Parks are now eligible under the Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Transportation Program and the Federal Lands Access Program.
Eligible funding recipients include federal land management agencies (FLMAs) that manage eligible areas, including, but not limited to:
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- Bureau of Reclamation (BR)
- National Park Service (NPS)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
- U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
Eligible recipients also include state, tribal, or local governmental authorities with jurisdiction over land in the vicinity of an eligible area acting with the consent of the FLMA.
Eligible project areas include any federally owned or managed park, refuge or recreational area open to the general public, including: National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges; Bureau of Land Management recreational areas; Bureau of Reclamation recreational areas; and National Forests. Eligible projects may also include the communities and land surrounding these federal lands.
Program funds may support capital and planning expenses for new or existing alternative transportation systems in the vicinity of an eligible area. Alternative transportation includes transportation by bus, rail, or any other publicly available means of transportation and includes sightseeing service. It also includes non-motorized transportation systems such as pedestrian and bicycle trails. Operating costs, such as fuel and drivers’ salaries, are not eligible expenses.
49 U.S.C. 5320
Funds are available until expended.
Allocation of Funding
Funds are allocated on a discretionary basis.
The Federal share may equal up to 100% of project capital or planning costs.
Sample Quarterly Report (PDF) for Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands Program (ATPPL) funding recipients who are Federal Land Management Agencies. Funding recipients who are State, local or tribal government entities will submit reports through FTA's electronic grants management system. This document describes the information to be included in quarterly reports and provides an example of a quarterly report.
Links to program partners
- National Park Servce
- Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System
- Forest Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- More information about the Federal Transit Administration
Resources, Studies, and Useful Links
- Case Study on Alternative Transportation at Cape Cod National Seashore (PDF), by the Paul S. SarbanesTechnical Assistance Center
- Transportation Research Board: Standing Committee on Transportation Needs of Parks and Public Lands
- Transit and Trail connections: Assessment of Visitor Access to National Wildlife Refuges (PDF)
This study profiles U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges with existing transit and trail access, and examines remaining refuges for similar opportunities. (1/5/11).
- Federal Lands Alternative Transportation Systems Study: Summary of National ATS Needs
Section 3039 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) required the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Interior, to "undertake a comprehensive study of alternative transportation needs in national parks and related Federal Lands." This report study identified significant alternative transportation needs at sites managed by the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
- Federal Lands Alternative Transportation Systems Study: Summary of Forest Service ATS Needs (PDF)
This supplement to the Section 3039 study identified significant alternative transportation needs in National Forests.
- Innovative Transportation Planning Partnerships to Enhance National Parks and Gateway Communities
Case studies of transportation solutions in National Parks and their surrounding communities conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute and Cambridge Systematics, Inc., October 2009, for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
- Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center
- The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Public Lands Team
- Federal Lands Highways Program
- Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands, Transportation Research Board Task Force Report (PDF)