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MAP-21 Frequently Asked Questions


FTA and the Federal Highway Administration jointly drafted a set of questions and answers on environment, planning, and innovative program delivery, applicable to both agencies.



Will grant funds be available to help pay for bus purchases?

Yes. Buses can be purchased under many of FTA’s programs under MAP-21, including Section 5307 (Urbanized Area Formula Grants), Section 5311 (Formula Grants for Rural Areas), as well as Section 5339 (Bus and Bus Facilities Formula Program) and Section 5337 (State of Good Repair Program).

Can the new Section 5339 Bus and Bus Facilities funds be used for operating assistance?

No. Section 5339 (Bus and Bus Facilities Program) is a capital-only program, and funds are limited to capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and bus-related equipment, and to construct bus-related facilities. Thus, Section 5339 funds cannot be used for operating assistance. Section 5307 authorizes recipients in urbanized areas under 200,000 in population to use Urbanized Area Formula Program funds for operating assistance at a 50 percent Federal share. Additionally, recipients in urbanized areas over 200,000 in population that operate a maximum of 100 buses in fixed route service during peak service hours may receive a grant for operating assistance subject to a maximum amount per system. A list of eligible recipients and their maximum operating assistance amounts for FY 2013 is set forth in Table 3A to the FTA Notice of FY 2013 Apportionments, Allocations, Program Information and Interim Guidance under MAP-21 at 77 FR 63670 (October 16, 2012).

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After October 1, 2012, can FTA grantees continue to obligate funds for programs that have been repealed by MAP-21?

Yes. The funds authorized and appropriated for repealed programs are available for obligation (and expenditure) through their authorized period of availability, unless and until Congress takes action directing otherwise. Programs falling under this category include the Clean Fuels Grant Program, Job Access and Reverse Commute, New Freedom, Transit in the Parks, Alternatives Analysis, Bus and Bus Facilities, Fixed Guideway Modernization, and Over-the-Road Bus Program.

After October 1, 2012, what rules apply to the old funds from programs that have been repealed by MAP-21?

The existing SAFETEA-LU requirements continue to apply for obligations using funding from Clean Fuels Grant Program (Section 5308), Job Access and Reverse Commute (Section 5316), New Freedom (Section 5317), Transit in the Parks (Section 5320), Alternatives Analysis (previous Section 5339), Bus and Bus Facilities (Section 5309(b)(3)), Fixed Guideway Modernization (Section 5309(b)(2)), and Over-the-Road Bus Program (Section 3038 of TEA-21).

Now that the Transit in the Parks program has been repealed, are there other funding sources for these types of projects?

Yes. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Federal Lands Access Program lists as eligible activities many of the same types of projects funded by FTA’s repealed Transit in the Parks Program. Interested recipients should visit the FHWA webpage ( for additional information on this program.

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Are the FHWA Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds, which can be flexed to FTA for transit purposes, eligible at a 100 percent Federal share under MAP-21?

No. While SAFETEA-LU provided that the Federal share for a project carried out using CMAQ funds obligated between 2008 and 2012 could be as high as 100 percent, MAP-21 returns the Federal share to 80 percent, effective October 1, 2012.


How will funds for Section 5310 (Formula Grants for the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities) be distributed to the small urbanized areas?

For small urbanized areas, Section 5310 funds will be apportioned to the States, which will distribute those funds to small urbanized areas (<200,000 in population). For large urbanized areas (>200,000 in population), Section 5310 funds will be apportioned to designated recipients.

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Will projects that previously were considered eligible for funding as “exempt” projects under the New Starts program in SAFETEA-LU (Section 5309/Capital Investment Grants) have access to a similar funding source?

Under MAP-21, all projects seeking Section 5309 Capital Investment Program funds must be evaluated and rated according to the criteria specified in law either as a New Starts project, a Small Starts project, or a Core Capacity project. Under previous authorizing laws, projects seeking less than $25 million in Capital Investment Program funds could be exempt from evaluation and rating if they chose to be, but that option was discontinued in MAP-21. Formerly exempt projects that still have remaining funding needs can either choose to be evaluated and rated by FTA to determine if they qualify for funding under the Capital Investment Program, or they may seek funding from other grant programs such as the Urbanized Area Formula grant program, FHWA flexible funds, etc.

Is public art still eligible for FTA funding under MAP-21 as a type of transit enhancement?

MAP-21 amends the definition of transit enhancements (now “associated transit improvements” under 49 U.S.C. 5302) so as to remove public art from the eligible projects specifically listed in law. However, art can be integrated into facility design, landscaping, and historic preservation, and funded as a capital expense. Art also can be integrated through the use of floor or wall tiles that contain artist-designed and fabricated elements, use of color, use of materials, lighting, and in the overall design of a facility. In addition, eligible capital projects include incidental expenses related to acquisition or construction, including design costs. Therefore, the incidental costs of incorporating art into facilities and including an artist on a design team continue to be eligible expenses. Procuring sculptures or other items not integral to the facility is no longer an eligible expense.

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What is the status of new categorical exclusions included in MAP-21 for emergency projects, projects in the operational right of way, and projects with limited federal financial assistance?

Sections 1315, 1316 and 1317 of MAP-21 direct FTA and FHWA to promulgate regulations to designate these new categorical exclusions pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register on October 1, 2012 for the categorical exclusion for emergency projects. The public comment period for that NPRM ends on November 30, 2012. An NPRM for projects in the operational right of way and projects with limited Federal funding is forthcoming. Please check the webpages of FTA and FHWA regularly for updates regarding the agencies’ implementation of MAP-21.

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MAP-21 changes the requirements of Metropolitan and Statewide planning efforts by including new performance measures and reporting requirements. Should MPOs and State DOTs that are in the process of updating and approving regional planning continue to apply the process they used under SAFETEA-LU?

Yes. Until FTA and FHWA promulgate new joint planning regulations, MPOs and State DOTs should use their current procedures to develop new planning documents.

MAP-21 requires that providers of public transportation be members of the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) board. Is this requirement only for large urbanized areas (>200,000 in population) or for small urbanized and rural areas, as well?

The requirement to include a provider of public transportation on the MPO board applies only to MPOs serving areas designated as “transportation management areas” or TMAs. TMAs generally are only large urbanized areas.

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What is the budget for the FTA’s new Safety program?

Congress authorized a set-aside of 0.5 percent of Section 5307 (Urbanized Area Formula Grant) funds for grants to State safety oversight agencies. These funds will be distributed to eligible States with rail fixed guideway systems not regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). In FY 2013, approximately $22 million is authorized for this effort, subject to Congressional appropriations. The distribution of these funds will be based upon a formula that FTA is developing.

Are there still “set asides” for transit enhancements and security?

Yes. Recipients of Section 5307 (Urbanized Area Formula Grants) are still required to spend at least 1 percent of amounts received for security projects unless the recipient determines such expenditures are unnecessary. Similarly, recipients in large urbanized areas (>200,000 in population) still must certify that they are spending not less than 1 percent of their Federal transit funds on associated transit improvements (formerly transit enhancements).

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Does MAP-21 make any changes to Buy America waivers?

No. However, MAP-21 does require FTA to publish in the Federal Register and on FTA’s website a detailed written explanation of waivers, and submit an annual report to Congress listing any waivers issued during the preceding year.

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Do job access and reverse commute projects, now eligible under Sections 5307 (Urbanized Area Formula Grants) and Section 5311 (Formula Grants for Rural Areas), need to be included in a coordinated human service transportation plan?

No, although FTA encourages recipients to continue the coordinated planning process as a best practice for project selection as it ensures the target population for these projects is included in the planning process.

Now that job access and reverse commute projects are combined with 5307 and 5311, will a competitive selection process be required?

No, there is no requirement that projects funded under this section be competitively selected. However, recipients are reminded that all projects funded under Section 5307 must be included in the program of projects and developed in accordance with the metropolitan planning process.

Will it be mandatory to use a certain percentage of 5307 or 5311 funds toward job access and reverse commute projects?

No. The law does not mandate a set-aside for job access and reverse commute projects, nor does it provide a cap on job access and reverse commute expenditures.

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Last updated: Monday, January 25, 2016