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Section 5310 – Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Formula Questions


  1. Eligible Designated Recipients and Subrecipients:
    1. Who are the designated recipients in this program? How will they be established?
    2. What is the difference between subrecipients for “Traditional” Section 5310 projects that are eligible for meeting the 55 percent mandatory requirement, and subrecipients for “Other” Section 5310 projects?
    3. Can the designated recipient of 5307 funds be the designated recipient for Section 5310 program?
    4. Can Section 5310 program funds be transferred to another program such as sections 5307 or 5311 to allow them to apply directly?
    5. I am located in a small urbanized area and receive Section 5307 funds directly from FTA, can I apply directly to FTA for 5310 funds?
    6. Are private for-profit taxi companies that seek to purchase accessible taxis eligible subrecipients under the new Section 5310 program?
  2. Apportionment / Formula:
    1. How are section 5310 funds distributed? According to the MAP- 21 website allocation information, small urbanized areas have a separate allocation but the funds were not divided up by community. Will those funds be provided to the States for distribution to the small urbanized areas or will the funding go directly to the small urbanized areas?
    2. If my agency has unobligated Section 5310 funds from FY 2011 and 2012, can I combine them into my section 5310 grant under MAP-21?
  3. Eligible Activities:
    1. In the past, contracting service was an eligible capital expense. Is this continued?
    2. What would be considered “Acquisition of Service” as a traditional Section 5310 project and eligible for 80/20 percent matching funding?
    3. Can operating assistance for ADA complementary paratransit service be funded under the 55 percent category?
    4. Section 5310 funding, in the past, could be used for services and capital items that met ADA requirements. Is it FTA’s intent to align this program with the Section 5317/New Freedom requirements that required projects to be new and go beyond the ADA requirements?
    5. Do “New Freedom” type projects have to be “new” as was the case under Section 5317?
    6. Is there any limitation on the use of 5310 funds for operating assistance?
    7. Is Mobility Management still an eligible expense?
    8. When is Mobility Management considered an eligible project meeting the 55 percent minimum category?
    9. Is travel training considered a capital expense or an operating expense?
    10. Can a designated recipient retain 100 percent of their 5310 funds and give it to themselves to buy buses?
  4. Coordinated Planning:
    1. What are the key requirements for the locally developed Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan; especially considering the importance of ensuring that it serves specific groups of people who must be involved in the development and approval of the plan?
    2. Will projects selected under Section 5310 need to be included in a coordinated plan?
    3. What does FTA mean by included in a coordinated plan?
    4. Do I need to update an existing plan?
    5. What other planning requirements apply?
    6. Does the State have to have its own coordinated plan, or can it rely on a locally developed plan?
  5. Other Requirements:
    1. Now that New Freedom-type projects are eligible under this program, will a competitive selection process be required?
    2. Is it necessary for States that are serving as the Designated Recipients for large urbanized areas to prepare separate Program Management Plans (PMP) for the large urbanized areas?
    3. Who approves the SMP/PMP?>
    4. Do projects have to be in both the STIP/TIP?
    5. Is there a requirement for Department of Labor notification under MAP-21 when a large urbanized area designated recipient submits a grant application?

A. Eligible Designated Recipients and Subrecipients

1. Who are the designated recipients in this program? How will they be established?

A. For areas under 200,000 in population, the governor designates a State agency responsible for administering the funds and notifies the FTA Regional Office in writing of that designation. Unless there is a change in State agency, FTA will assume the existing designated recipient for the section 5310 program (under SAFETEA-LU) will continue to administer the program for the areas under 200,000.

In areas over 200,000, a designated recipient will need to be identified. FTA will need to receive designated recipient information before a grant can be awarded. These letters should be submitted to the FTA Regional office. Designated recipients in the large urbanized areas may be the section 5307 designated recipients, other direct recipients of 5307 funds, metropolitan planning organizations, or the section 5317 New Freedom Program. Areas may also elect to designate the State DOT as the designated recipient in a large urbanized area. Designations must be made in accordance with the planning process under 49 U.S.C. 5303, 5304, and 5306, by the Governor of a State, responsible local officials, and publicly owned operators of public transportation. Designated Recipients for large urbanized areas will be responsible for receiving and apportioning amounts under the Section 5310 program to urbanized areas of 200,000 or more in population. This includes applying for and managing the grant and overseeing subrecipients in these areas.

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2. What is the difference between subrecipients for “Traditional” Section 5310 projects that are eligible for meeting the 55 percent mandatory requirement, and subrecipients for “Other” Section 5310 projects?

A. The eligible subrecipients for “traditional” 5310 projects are the same as those permitted under Section 5310 as authorized under prior legislation. Specifically, eligible subrecipients are: 1) A private nonprofit organization; OR 2) a state or local governmental authority that is approved by a state to coordinate services for seniors and individuals with disabilities or certifies that there are no nonprofit organizations readily available in the area to provide the service.

The intent of the 55 percent requirement and the specific subrecipients eligible to administer capital projects designed to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable, or inappropriate, is to preserve the “status quo” of the program as authorized under prior legislation.

However, given the blending of the New Freedom program and eligibility under MAP-21, the eligible subrecipients for all “Other” eligible Section 5310 activities include a state or local governmental authority, a private nonprofit organization, or an operator of public transportation that receives a Section 5310 grant indirectly through a recipient. There is no required certification or designation required for state or local governmental authorities to administer these other types of eligible projects.

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3. Can the designated recipient of 5307 funds be the designated recipient for Section 5310 program?

A. Yes. In a large urbanized area (area over 200,000), the designated recipient for the Section 5307 program can be the designated recipient for the Section 5310 program in the large urbanized area. A designation letter is still required before a 5310 grant can be awarded. The state is the only eligible designated recipient (and grant applicant) for rural and small urbanized areas (areas under 200,000 in population).

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4. Can Section 5310 program funds be transferred to another program such as sections 5307 or 5311 to allow them to apply directly?

A. No. Under previous Section 5310 program, States could transfer funds to an apportionment under Section 5307 or 5311(c). This transfer provision is no longer permitted by law.

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5. I am located in a small urbanized area and receive Section 5307 funds directly from FTA, can I apply directly to FTA for 5310 funds?

A. No. Recipients in areas under 200,000 should contact the State agency responsible for administering the 5310 program. Recipients in this area are eligible as subrecipients for the State for 5310 program funds. Unlike the 5307 program, by law, FTA is not permitted to award grants under this program directly to agencies in areas under 200,000. The only eligible direct recipient for these areas under this program is the State agency.

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6. Are private for-profit taxi companies that seek to purchase accessible taxis eligible subrecipients under the new Section 5310 program?

A. Under certain circumstances, a for-profit taxi company may be an eligible subrecipient under this program. As defined in MAP-21, eligible subrecipients for this program are a State governmental authority, a private non-profit organization, or an operator of public transportation that receives a grant under this section indirectly through a recipient. Therefore, some for-profit taxi companies may be eligible under the latter section of the definition.

Under previous policy, FTA declared taxi companies that provide shared-ride taxi service to the public or a segment of the population as operators of public transportation (see FTA FAQs for the Section 5310, 5316, and 5317 programs). Assuming the project is eligible under the section 5310 program, as amended by MAP-21, and the service provided is shared-ride, the company may be an eligible subrecipient.

“Shared ride” means two or more passengers in the same vehicle who are otherwise not traveling together. Similar to general public and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) demand response service, every trip does not have to be shared-ride in order for a taxi company to be considered a shared-ride operator, but the general nature of the service must include shared rides.

Local (municipal/State) statutes or regulations, or company policy, will generally determine whether a taxi company provides shared-ride or exclusive-ride service. For example, if the local regulation permits the driver to determine whether or not a trip may be shared, the service is not shared-ride. Similarly, if the regulation requires the consent of the first passenger to hire a taxi be obtained before the taxi may take an additional riders, the service is not shared-ride. In essence, services which can be reserved for the exclusive use of individuals or private groups, either by the operator or the first passenger’s refusal to permit additional passengers, is exclusive-ride taxi service, and is not shared ride. A recipient passing funds through to a taxi company subrecipient should request documentation from the taxi company to assure the company is providing shared-ride service. Under certain conditions, the taxi service may also be eligible as a third party contractor.

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B. Apportionment / Formula

7. How are section 5310 funds distributed? According to the MAP- 21 website allocation information, small urbanized areas have a separate allocation but the funds were not divided up by community. Will those funds be provided to the States for distribution to the small urbanized areas or will the funding go directly to the small urbanized areas?

A. Under MAP-21, FTA apportions 60 percent of the funds to large urbanized areas, 20 percent to States for areas under 200,000 in population (small urbanized areas) and 20 percent to States for areas under 50,000 in population. For small urbanized areas, the funds will be apportioned to the States, who are responsible for the grant and for any further suballocation of funds to the small urbanized areas. For the large urbanized areas, FTA apportions the funds to designated recipients, who are responsible for any further suballocation within the large urbanized area. A State may transfer funds apportioned to the State’s small or rural area for a project serving an area other than that small or rural area if the Governor of the State certifies that all the objectives of the section are being met in the particular small or rural area. Small and rural area apportionment may be transferred for a project anywhere in the State, if the State has established a statewide program. However, there is no provision to transfer funds from the large urbanized areas to either the small or rural areas of a State.

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8. If my agency has unobligated Section 5310 funds from FY 2011 and 2012, can I combine them into my section 5310 grant under MAP-21?

A. Yes. However, unobligated Section 5310 funds under SAFETEA-LU must be spent in accordance with the program requirements as authorized under SAFETEA-LU. The Program of Projects (POP) must identify which projects are being funded by SAFETEA-LU and which ones are funded by MAP-21.

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C. Eligible Activities

9. In the past, contracting service was an eligible capital expense. Is this continued?

A. Yes. Acquisition of public transportation services is still an eligible capital expense under this section.

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10. What would be considered “Acquisition of Service” as a traditional Section 5310 project and eligible for 80/20 percent matching funding?

A. Acquisition of service occurs in the course of a procurement action resulting in a contract. Generally speaking, a contractor provides service at the request and direction of the designated recipient or subrecipient. The designated recipient or subrecipient establishes the requirements of the service to be performed, such as days, hours, routes, geographic coverage, etc. There is a difference between this contractual relationship and that of a traditional subrecipient relationship. A traditional subrecipient relationship exist when the designated recipient selects an organization such as a nonprofit to provide a service, but the nonprofit determines the characteristics of the service to be provided.

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11. Can operating assistance for ADA complementary paratransit service be funded under the 55 percent category?

A. No. However, FTA will include the eligibility of rolling stock for and acquisition of ADA complementary service as Traditional Section 5310 Projects when carried out by eligible subrecipients (or recipient) that can count toward the minimum 55 percent required, so long as the projects are planned, designed and carried out to meet the specific needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable or inappropriate, and the projects are included in the area’s coordination plan. For further information please see the 5310 Circular FTA C9070.G Chapter III pages 11-15.

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12. Section 5310 funding, in the past, could be used for services and capital items that met ADA requirements. Is it FTA’s intent to align this program with the Section 5317/New Freedom requirements that required projects to be new and go beyond the ADA requirements?

A. No, under MAP-21, given the blending of the two programs, eligible activities for this program include projects that were funded under both the SAFETEA-LU section 5310 and section 5317 programs. In addition to the blending , one new type of eligible project was included under MAP-21. See (B) below.

Specifically, section 5310 now authorizes grants for: (A) public transportation projects planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, inappropriate, or unavailable; (B) public transportation projects that improve access to fixed route service and decrease reliance by individuals with disabilities on complementary paratransit; (C) public transportation projects that exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Action of 1990; and (D) alternatives to public transportation that assist seniors and individuals with disabilities with transportation.

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13. Do “New Freedom” type projects have to be “new” as was the case under Section 5317?

A. No. There is no requirement for projects that go beyond the requirements of the ADA to be new.

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14. Is there any limitation on the use of 5310 funds for operating assistance?

A. Yes. MAP-21 requires that at least 55 percent of the grantee’s section 5310 apportionment be used for traditional 5310 projects: capital public transportation projects planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, inappropriate, or unavailable. Thus, the most that could be spent on operating assistance is 45 percent, but this is a maximum and not a minimum. Note: Acquisition of public transportation service is considered a capital expense under the program.

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15. Is Mobility Management still an eligible expense?

A. Yes. Mobility management is defined as an eligible capital expense under Section 5302, Definitions. Section 5310 will continue to list Mobility Management and coordination programs among public transportation providers and other human service agencies providing mobility management as an eligible capital expense.

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16. When is Mobility Management considered an eligible project meeting the 55 percent minimum category?

A. In order for a Mobility Management project to be an eligible “traditional” 5310 project and be considered for the 55 percent threshold, it must be : 1) be a project planned, designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, unavailable, or inappropriate; 2) carried out by and eligible subrecipient and; 3) included in a locally developed coordinated transit human-services transportation plan.

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17. Is travel training considered a capital expense or an operating expense?

A. The Section 5310 program circular treats travel training as a component of mobility management, which is considered a capital expense and is eligible for up to 80 percent Federal match.

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18. Can a designated recipient retain 100 percent of their 5310 funds and give it to themselves to buy buses?

A. It may be possible. However, there are several statutory requirements that need to be met and may preclude the designated recipient from receiving 100% of the area’s apportionment. First, the designated recipient must certify that all projects (including the acquisition of buses) are in a locally developed coordinated plan that was developed and approved by people with disabilities, seniors and the other stakeholder groups as noted in the FTA C9070.1G circular Chapter III 3.b. Second, the designated recipient must certify that at least 55 percent of its apportionment is being used for traditional capital 5310 projects carried out by an eligible recipient or subrecipient. In order for a public entity, such as the designated recipient, to be eligible to administer traditional 5310 projects, it would need to meet one of the following conditions and document it in its application to FTA as well as its program management plan:

  1. is approved by the state to coordinate services for seniors and individuals with disabilities; or
  2. certifies that there are no nonprofit organizations readily available in the area to provide the services. 
    By services, we mean capital public transportation projects planned designed, and carried out to meet the special needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities when public transportation is insufficient, inappropriate or unavailable.

The remainder of the area’s apportionment can be spent on any of eligible types of projects listed in the statute and described in more detail in the circular. Buses are certainly eligible and the designated recipient, as a public entity, could administer those projects. However, the region should confirm that the acquisition of buses and the proposed service they will be used to provide are both (1) included in the coordinated plan and (2) eligible under the program (eligibility is listed in 49 USC 5310 (b)).

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D. Coordinated Planning

19. What are the key requirements for the locally developed Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan; especially considering the importance of ensuring that it serves specific groups of people who must be involved in the development and approval of the plan?

A. Before receiving a grant the designated recipient must certify that: 1) the projects selected by the recipient are included in a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan; 2) the plan was developed and approved through a process that included participation by seniors, individuals with disabilities, representatives of public, private, and nonprofit transportation and human services providers and other members of the pubic; and 3) to the maximum extent feasible, the services funded will be coordinated with transportation services assisted by other Federal departments and agencies, including any transportation activities carried out by a recipient of a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. Please also review in detail FTA C 9070.1G page V-1 through V-4.

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20. Will projects selected under Section 5310 need to be included in a coordinated plan?

A. Yes. Projects selected for Section 5310 funding must be included in a coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan (“coordinated plan”). This was a requirement under SAFETEA-LU and is still a requirement under MAP-21.

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21. What does FTA mean by included in a coordinated plan?

A. FTA maintains flexibility in how projects appear in the coordinated plan. For example, for the purposes of the coordinated plan, a project is a strategy, activity or specific action addressing an identified service gap or transportation coordination objective articulated and prioritized within the plan. For example, a coordinated plan may identify a service gap, such as the absence of accessible transportation service after 10:00 p.m., when the transit system’s fixed route service ends. Examples of strategies to address this service gap may be non-specific, such as adding late-night service options; or may be more specific, such as contracting for accessible taxi service or extending ADA complementary paratransit hours past the fixed route service end time. The level of specificity in the coordinated plan is a local decision.

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22. Do I need to update an existing plan?

A. Possibly. MAP-21 specifically requires that the coordinated plan is developed and approved through a process that includes participation by seniors, individuals with disabilities, representatives of public, private and nonprofit transportation and human services providers, and other member of the public. So, if the previous plan did not have participation from representatives from each of these stakeholder groups and some process where the stakeholders approved the plan, then the existing plan would need to be updated.

Additionally, since the program now includes apportionments to urbanized areas, we expect several urbanized areas will need to develop or amend existing coordinated plans to reflect Section 5310 program needs. For urbanized areas over 200,000 in population, coordinated plans from Section 5316/JARC and Section 5317/New Freedom, both of which have been repealed, may be used/updated to reflect 5310 program needs and to help develop the program of projects in large urbanized areas. States should also lend assistance to areas over 200,000 that will be administering the program for the first time.

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23. What other planning requirements apply?

A. In addition to the coordinated planning requirements, to be eligible for funding, section 5310 projects in UZA’s must be included in the metropolitan transportation plan (MTP) prepared and approved by the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and the governor, and the statewide transportation improvement program (STIP) developed by a state or jointly approved by FTA and FHWA. Projects outside UZA’s must be included in, or be consistent with the statewide long-range transportation plan, as developed by the state, and must be included in the STIP. With limited exceptions, all federally-funded highway or transit projects must be included in the applicable plan and program documents according to state and local procedures. For more information on 5310 planning requirements, please see Chapter V in circular FTA C9070.G.

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24. Does the State have to have its own coordinated plan, or can it rely on a locally developed plan?

A. No. There is no requirement for a Statewide plan. The communities may define “locally-developed” and in some cases the planning area may be defined as statewide. Please reference Chapter V in circular FTA C9070.G.

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E. Other Requirements

25. Now that New Freedom-type projects are eligible under this program, will a competitive selection process be required?

A. No. Designated Recipients are not required to competitively select projects. They must, however, have a process by which projects are selected and ensure this is explained in a program/state management plan. Additionally, a program of projects will be required at the time of grant application. For more information on these two requirements, please see Chapters III and V of FTA Circular 9070.1G.

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26. Is it necessary for States that are serving as the Designated Recipients for large urbanized areas to prepare separate Program Management Plans (PMP) for the large urbanized areas?

A. No. FTA will grant States the flexibility of having a single (State) management plan if the States are the designated recipient for large urbanized areas as well as rural and small urbanized areas, so long as it is clear how the program is being managed for the respective population areas The intent of the management plan is to explain to both interested stakeholders as well as FTA how the program will be managed, including how to apply for funding. Therefore, it will be critical for the State, as the large urbanized areas Designated Recipient, to explain this for the respective large urbanized areas for which it has this role.

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27. Who approves the SMP/PMP?

A. Once management plans are developed, the designated recipient must submit the plan to the appropriate FTA Regional office for approval. The FTA Regional office will provide the designated recipient with an approval letter, which must be maintained on file with the designated recipient.

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28. Do projects have to be in both the STIP/TIP?

A. If the project is within the planning boundary of a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the project has to be in both the TIP and STIP. Projects in rural areas only have to be in the STIP. Depending on State or local requirements, the projects may show on the aggregate (program level) or be listed on the individual project level listing. TIP and STIP listings must be consistent with the metropolitan and statewide transportation plans.

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29. Is there a requirement for Department of Labor notification under MAP-21 when a large urbanized area designated recipient submits a grant application?

A. No. There is no requirement for Section 5310 grants to go to Department of Labor for certification under MAP-21.

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Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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