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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Standards Development Program

Collage of four images consisting of a bus, light rail train, heavy railcar and Standards Development report cover and pages.

What's New

  • On November 22, 2022, FTA released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to provide up to $3 million for a cooperative agreement to an organization to perform a detailed industry assessment and develop standards, best practices, guidance, and tools in safety and other areas to address industry needs and demands. The NOFO builds on a prior FTA program that developed reports consisting of gap analyses and recommendations for transit standards development. Project proposals are due on February 6, 2023.
  • FTA hosted a webinar on Thursday, December 15, 2022. View the presentation and FAQs.


The Standards Development Program (SDP) seeks to develop meaningful transit standards, including minimum performance standards and best practices for efficient, reliable and safe operation of public transportation systems, both rail and non-rail modes.

The goals of FTA’s SDP are to:

  • Determine the need to revise or expand existing transit standards due to innovation and technological advancements
  • Determine the need for new transit standards in areas where standards are lacking or where there are gaps within existing standards
  • Work with the transit industry to develop and implement safety and other standards and best practices

The primary objectives of the SDP are to:

  • Conduct background literature review, data gathering and analysis to determine gaps and needs for standards development
  • Work with industry stakeholders to inform the standard development process, including associated transit research reports and findings
  • Work with Standard Development Organizations (SDOs) to develop guidance documents, standards, or recommended practices for voluntary adoption by the transit industry

Eligible Activities

In accordance with Federal public transportation law (U.S.C. § 5314(a)(1)(B)), activities may include technical assistance and the development of voluntary and consensus-based standards and best practices by the public transportation industry. This includes standards and best practices for safety, fare collection, intelligent transportation systems, accessibility, procurement, security, asset management to maintain a state of good repair, operations, maintenance, vehicle propulsion, communications, and vehicle electronics.

The SDP provides funding for background literature review, analysis, testing, and evaluation of industry critical topic areas, in accordance with Federal public transportation law (U.S.C. § 5314(a)(1)(B)). SDP program funds are used to advance FTA’s standards program through targeted technical assistance and the support activities indicated above in safety and non-safety topic areas to determine if standards should be developed or if existing standards should be modified to address these topic areas. Eligible activities also include the development of public transportation standards in partnership with the transit industry and SDOs. 

The SDP does not include funding for capital procurements.

Eligible Recipients

Eligible project partners and sub-recipients may include, but are not limited to:

  • Public transportation systems
  • Private for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including technology system suppliers and bus manufacturers
  • Operators of transportation, such as employee shuttle services or airport connector services or university transportation systems
  • State or local government entities
  • Other organizations that may contribute to the success of the project team including consultants, research consortia or nonprofit industry organizations, and institutions of higher education
  • Standard Development Organizations

Statutory References

Technical Assistance and Workforce Development (49 U.S.C. § 5314(a)(1)(B))

Allocation of Funding

Standards Development Program projects are funded under Technical Assistance and Workforce Development (49 U.S.C. § 5314).

Past Selected Projects

Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) Standards Projects 


Grant Type: Competitive