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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

Formula Grants for Rural Areas - 5311

What's New

  • FTA has published a Dear Colleague letter stating that intercity bus providers that use a nationwide allocation model to allocate costs are eligible to be reimbursed for net operating costs under Section 5311(f), including funding provided by supplemental COVID programs such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
  • In March 2022, FTA posted guidance clarifying coordination on human services transportation on a new transportation coordination webpage. Coordinated transportation involves multiple entities working together to deliver one or more components of a transportation service to increase capacity. The transportation coordination guidance aims to reduce overlap between the 130 CCAM programs across nine agencies that may fund human services transportation and incentivize collaboration by clarifying eligible reporting into the National Transit Database (NTD). This new guidance addresses the following topics as they relate to NTD reporting: definition of public transportation; paratransit; charter service; incidental use of transit assets; and trip brokering.


The Formula Grants for Rural Areas program provides capital, planning, and operating assistance to states to support public transportation in rural areas with populations of less than 50,000, where many residents often rely on public transit to reach their destinations. The program also provides funding for state and national training and technical assistance through the Rural Transportation Assistance Program.

Eligible Recipients

Eligible recipients include states and federally recognized Indian Tribes. Subrecipients may include state or local government authorities, nonprofit organizations, and operators of public transportation or intercity bus service. 

Eligible Activities

Eligible activities include planning, capital, operating, job access and reverse commute projects, and the acquisition of public transportation services.

Statutory References

Funding and Match

The federal share is 80 percent for capital projects, 50 percent for operating assistance, and 80 percent for Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) non-fixed route paratransit service. Section 5311 funds are available to the States during the fiscal year of apportionment plus two additional years (total of three years). Funds are apportioned to States based on a formula that includes land area, population, revenue vehicle miles, and low-income individuals in rural areas. 

Intercity Bus Program

Each state must spend no less than 15 percent of its annual apportionment for the development and support of intercity bus transportation, unless it can certify, after consultation with intercity bus service providers, that the intercity bus needs of the state are being adequately met. 

Technical Assistance

Transportation Technical Assistance Coordination Library (TACL)

The Transportation Technical Assistance Coordination Library (TACL) provides a sustainable methodology and platform to access resources across a diverse range of transportation technical assistance centers and FTA. Participating FTA-funded technical assistance centers include:

For additional technical assistance resources, visit Coordination-Related Technical Assistance Centers.

Training and Technical Assistance is available through the National Rural Transit Assistance Program

Statutory References

49 U.S.C. 5311

FTA State Programs Meeting

Save the Date
19th Biennial State Programs Meeting and State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference (Virtual)
September 28-30, 2021

This event brings together state departments of transportation and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to discuss funding and initiatives for rural and tribal areas. Learn about FTA’s Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program (Section 5311), Formula Grants for the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program (Section 5310) and supplemental funding for Coronavirus response.

Registration and event details are available here conference site (please use Chrome to optimize your experience). The agenda will be posted to the website soon. For questions, please contact Elan Flippin,, or Sarah Clements,

Attendees at this event include State program managers for the Section 5311 and 5310 programs, state transit association representatives, FTA regional and headquarters staff, FTA-funded technical assistance centers and Tribes.

FTA sponsors the event in partnership with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA).

Grant Type: Formula