FTA offers several flexible funding programs to fund transit related activities. Flexible funds are certain legislatively specified funds that may be used either for transit or highway purposes. The idea of flexible funds is that a local area can choose to use certain Federal surface transportation funds based on local planning priorities, not on a restrictive definition of program eligibility. Flexible funds include Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) and FTA Urban Formula Funds. Flexible funding allows for the innovative use of FTA and FHWA funds to create livable communities.
Surface Transportation Program (STP)
The Surface Transportation Program is the largest potential source of flexible funds. It can be used for a broad array of highway purposes, and flexibly used for major transit purposes as well. A few examples include buying buses, rail vehicles, or constructing fixed guideway systems like light rail or heavy rail. FTA strongly encourages local decision makers to consider and advocate for these funds as they plan for transit projects and renovations.
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ)
Another great source of funds for both FTA and FHWA projects, CMAQ, has the objective of improving the Nation’s air quality and managing traffic congestion. CMAQ projects and programs are often innovative solutions to common mobility problems and are driven by Clean Air Act mandates to attain national ambient air quality standards. Eligible activities under CMAQ include transit system capital expansion and improvements that are projected to realize an increase in ridership; travel demand management strategies and shared ride services; pedestrian and bicycle facilities and promotional activities that encourage bicycle commuting. Additional information on the CMAQ program is available at: (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/cmaqpgs/)
DOT Programs (Administered by FHWA but applicable to transit)
Transportation Enhancement (TE)
Transportation Enhancement (TE) activities offer funding opportunities to help expand transportation choices and enhance the transportation experience through 12 eligible TE activities related to surface transportation.
Transportation, Community, and System Preservation (TCSP)
The Transportation, Community, and System Preservation (TCSP) Program is a comprehensive initiative of research and grants to investigate the relationships between transportation, community, and system preservation plans and practices and identify private sector-based initiatives to improve such relationships.