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Transit Cooperative Research Program - 5312(i)

Program Overview

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (49 U.S.C. 5313; TCRP) is an applied, contract research program that develops near-term, practical solutions to problems facing transit agencies. TCRP, promotes operating effectiveness and efficiency in the public transportation industry by conducting research designed to solve operational problems, adopt useful technologies from related industries and introduce innovation that provides better customer service. The industry-driven program serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative short-term solutions to meet demands placed on it.

TCRP products, such as transit security guidelines, new transit paradigms, transit industry best practices, exploratory idea transit practice and testing prototypes, and new planning and management tools, as well as, rail and bus certification programs, all help develop and equip a quality transit workforce to meet new challenges and opportunities.

  • The Transportation Research Board (TRB), which administers the TCRP, maintains an electronic database of all TCRP publications and project descriptions. 
  • TCRP reports are available online at the TCRP Dissemination website maintained by the American Public Transportation Association.

TCRP is sponsored by FTA and carried out under a three-way agreement among the National Academy of Sciences, acting through the Transportation Research Board; the Transit Development Corporation, Inc., the educational and research component of the American Public Transportation Association; and FTA. Funds for projects are allocated by transit industry consensus through TRB.

Research problem statements are solicited annually from the transit community. TRB publishes competitive contracts for research and synthesis studies of current best practices. The TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee selects the highest priority problems to be addressed and designates funds for conducting the research.

The TCRP focuses on research that is consistent with, and supportive of, FTA’s strategic research goals and policy initiatives.  The research fields for TCRP consist of planning, service configuration, equipment, facilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and administrative practices.

Statutory References

49 U.S.C. Section 5312(i)

Funding Availability

Funds are allocated on an annual basis.

Allocation of Funding

Funds for this program are congressionally mandated.


There is no matching requirement.

Other Program Highlights

Each project selected by the TOPS Committee for funding is assigned to a technical panel that provides technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. Panels include experienced practitioners and research specialists, with emphasis placed on including members representing the intended consumers of the research product. The panels prepare project statements and select contractors based on evaluation of the proposals received.

The program, Ideas Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA), is steered by the TCRP J-4 panel of transit industry professionals that support FTA strategic priorities and initiatives. Proposals are selected competitively. The IDEA proposals differ from other project proposals because these projects can be funded to develop and test the feasibility of new and innovative concepts and methods for advancing transit.  

There program entitled "Legal Studies" is conducted by the J-5 panel comprised of professional transit attorneys.  Proposals are selected competitively. Ideas for study topics can be submitted by anyone.  The Legal Studies Program is focused on legal issues relevant to the transit industry and intended to provide transit attorneys with authoritative, well-research, specific information. The TCRP Legal Research Digest series reports produced from this program focuses on legal issues and problems having national significance to the transit industry. 

Grant Type: Competitive